March in France: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Strasbourg in the spring
Tomekbudujedomek / Getty Images

March can be the last chance until late fall to visit France on a budget. This is the time to fly to France for cheaper airfares, hotel rooms, package deals, and bargain ferries from the U.K. However, this is also the ski season's last busy month so expect some crowds on the slopes.

France in March can be sunny and bright or it can be cold, but if winter hasn't loosened its grip, hotels throughout France will welcome you with roaring wood fires. There will also be plenty of inventive Easter candy displays in patisseries and chocolatiers.

Down in the south of France on the Riviera, there are festivals to enjoy with Mediterranean weather, including the Nice Carnival. But if you prefer the snow over the beach, the slopes of the mountains around France are in perfect spring skiing weather.

France Weather in March

As the season moves from winter blasts into spring rain, you can expect any and every kind of weather throughout France in March. In the north, be prepared for cool to frigid weather and, in the south, for mild to chilly weather. There are major variations in climate depending on where you are in France, but the weather averages for major cities are generally indicative of the larger regions of the country.

  Average High Temp.  Average Low Temp. 
Paris  52 F ( 11 C) 41 F (5 C)
Bordeaux  59 F (15 C) 39 F (4 C)
Lyon  57 F (14 C) 39 F (4 C)
Nice  59 F (15 C) 48 F (9 C) 
Strasbourg  52 F (11 C) 36 F (2 C) 

Rain is always a possibility in March, regardless of what part of the country you're in. March in cities like Paris usually involves a lot of cloudy days and light showers, although you'll hopefully see at least a few sunny days with spring weather. Unless you're heading to the mountains, you won't likely see snow during a trip to France in March.

What to Pack

Packing for a French holiday in March can vary, but generally, this is a chilly time of year. You might get rainstorms and even snow, depending on where you're visiting. As a result, you should include a good winter coat, a warm jacket for daytime, sweaters or cardigans, a scarf, a warm hat, gloves, good walking shoes, and a sturdy umbrella that can resist the wind.

In a transitional season, layering is always a good plan. Sweaters, fleece vests, and jackets should be compatible with layering.

March Events in France

There is always something going on in a cosmopolitan city like Paris, but you don't have to stay in the capital to find springtime activities going on. From the French Alps to the Mediterranean coast, you can find happenings all over France.

  • Snowboxx: For one of the most epic mountain music festivals, head to Snowboxx at Avoriaz Resort in the French Alps, just across from the Swiss border. Apart from the main stage, you can also party inside a giant igloo or dance away at the forest rave.
  • Carnival: Carnival takes place in cities across France leading up to Ash Wednesday, culminating with the biggest party for Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras falls in February or early March, depending on the year, but it's a worthwhile party if you make it. You can find Carnival events everywhere, but some of the biggest celebrations take place in Nice, Strasbourg, and Limoux.
  • Paris Book Fair: Livre Paris, or the Paris Book Fair, brings 160,000 visitors and over 3,000 authors from dozens of different countries. It's one of the largest literary festivals in the world and hosted in the city that's inspired countless novels, making this an obligatory stop in March for bookworms in Paris.

March Travel Tips

  • March is the off-season in most parts of France, so there are fewer crowds and shorter wait times for tourist attractions. Additionally, prices are generally lower for airfares and local hotels.
  • The biggest exception to the low-season rule is when Easter falls in March, since the week leading up to Easter Sunday is spring break for students all over Europe. If you're traveling during this week, expect prices to rise and hotels to book up.
  • If you're traveling around France by train, remember that prices for train seats don't fluctuate up and down; they just go up. When it comes to train tickets, the sooner you buy them, the better.
  • For ski trips in the French Alps, it's often easier to fly into an airport in a neighboring country. Geneva, Switzerland, and Turin, Italy, both have major airports and are much closer to the French Alp ski resorts than major French cities. Or to ski in the Pyrenees, Barcelona may be the cheapest major airport.