Unless you're a subtle soul who finds poetic inspiration in winter landscapes and activities, the month of March comes as a relief after months of mostly dark, cold days. And this is true of Paris as much as anywhere else. It may not be the mad symphony of blossoms and whirling pollen that April and May so often bring, but you can expect something like a gentle thaw at work during this time of year.
You'll see it in both the seasonal flora and in the moods of locals, who often seem to be hopefully creeping out of hibernation as they take to the streets, cafe terraces and even the river quays again. Paris in March shows the city getting back to a sense of warmth and activity. This is the period when Parisians start to get back their joie de vivre and enthusiasm, and when the city starts to feel more lively after a few sleepy months.
Accordingly, this is a great time to explore a few beautiful Parisian parks and gardens, soak up any available sun and warmth on a cafe terrace, or enjoy exploring some of the city's charming and distinctive neighborhoods. There's also plenty on around town in March, from festivals to exhibits and shows. If you're in town on St. Patrick's Day, consider joining in on the celebration and get a glimpse of Paris' vibrant Irish community.
Paris Weather in March
Although spring is well on its way, March is generally still quite chilly, with lows that can take some visitors by surprise if they're ill-equipped for cold temperatures. Heavy cloud cover, frequent rain and wind chill are also typical at this time of year. These are the key annual averages to keep in mind as you prepare to embark on your trip:
- Minimum temperature: 2.7 degrees C (37 degrees F)
- Maximum temperature: 12.2 degrees C (54 degrees F)
- Average temperature: 7.7 degrees C (46 degrees F)
- Average rainfall: 41 millimeters (1.6 inches)
- Average daylight hours: Roughly eight hours and 45 minutes
- Wind chill: It can be quite windy in March, with windchill making perceived temperatures even lower. Scarves and even gloves can be essential.
What to Pack for Your March Trip?
One of the first questions you're likely to have about your March sojourn concerns the weather—and concerns about how to pack your suitcase.
The most important thing to remember is that spring is not entirely sprung at this time of year. As a general rule, March in Paris remains somewhat chilly, with temperatures hovering, on average, at around 45 degrees F. It's a smart idea to pack plenty of clothes that you can layer, in case an unusually cool or warm day sneaks up on you. Feel free to bring along light cotton shirts, shorts, skirts and pants in hopes of sun — but it's also highly advisable to pack a few sweaters, warm socks, a springtime scarf or two and a light coat.
March can be a wet month, and the French capital is well-known for its erratic and sudden downpours. So make sure to pack an umbrella that can withstand strong rain and wind.
On that note, also ensure that you pack a good pair of waterproof shoes. Rain during a March trip here is likely, and you don't want to ruin your outdoor excursions with sloshy shoes and miserably cold, wet socks. Also be sure to bring along a pair of shoes that are comfortable to walk in-- Paris is a city where getting around on foot is often the best, and most interesting, option.
Bring a pair of light gloves as the mercury often still dips on the cold side at this time of year, especially after dusk when temps can feel close to freezing.
Think about packing a hat and other sun gear in case a sunny day comes along and you wish to spend time lazing outside, hopefully somewhere green and peaceful.
March Events in Paris: What to See & Do This Month
It's not yet high season, but there's still a wealth of interesting things to see and do at this time of year. Here are a few we especially recommend.
- St Patrick's Day: March is the month to fete the "Green Man" in Paris, a city with a large and vibrant Irish community and several authentic, cheerful Irish pubs going all out for the holiday. It's the perfect occasion to take part in a little pre-spring revelry with music and perhaps a good Guinness or two. Of course, if you're traveling with family, you can steer clear of the drinking-heavy events and head to concerts and other events at the Irish Cultural Center, or to Disneyland Paris for a St Paddy's day-themed parade the kids will love. See more details for this year's events online.
- The Paris Book Fair: Anyone who loves literature or wants to find something exciting and new to read should beeline to the annual Salon du Livre (Paris Book Fair), a trade show that brings together thousands of readers, authors and publishers under a single roof. It's usually held at the Paris Porte de Versailles convention center.
- Stroll Through Lush Parks & Gardens: As mentioned earlier, it's probably not going to be quite warm enough in March to stroll around the city in shorts and t-shirts and spend long, lazy hours picnicking on the banks of the Seine. Still, there's that aforementioned thaw happening, so it's often very pleasant to take a stroll around lovely Parisian green spaces, such as the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Jardin des Tuileries. In addition to wandering around and admiring the formal flowerbeds in bloom or pre-bloom, you can sail sailboats on the ponds, admire statuary from great French sculptors and take advantage of exhibits at onsite museums and galleries such as the Musee du Luxembourg and the Musee de l'Orangerie. Both have cafes where you can cozy up with a warm drink if your amble through the park has made you chilly.
- Enjoy a Day Trip Outside the City: Finally, March generally includes at least a few warm (or at the very least, "warmish" days, so now that winter's on the way out you should take the opportunity embark one or more day trips. You don't need to go too far afield, either: attractions such as the Chateau de Versailles, the Chateau de Fontainebleau, and its adjoining forest, and Disneyland Paris are only about an hour away by public transport—making it unnecessary for most visitors to rent a car. Enjoy a hassle-free excursion to one of these destinations in close reach of the city, exploring opulent palaces, breathtaking gardens and old royal hunting trails—or even trying a little beginner-level rock climbing. Fresh air is always essential, especially following the winter months.
- Even though it's still technically low season in March, you may find that crowds increase at this time of year as temperatures rise above close to freezing. We recommend that you book well ahead for tables at popular restaurants, trending shows and exhibits—or risk disappointment. Ideally, try to reserve tickets and tables two to three months in advance of your desired dates.
- Be flexible about your daily program to account for fickle weather. If you've planned for a day out at Versailles but icy rain and wind foil your plans, have a back-up plan ready: a day exploring the gorgeous covered galleries around the Palais Royal? A double-feature in an old Parisian cinema? A morning marveling at the permanent collection of modern art at the Centre Pompidou? There's always so much to see and do in Paris, no matter the conditions outside.
To learn more about planning your trip to the capital at a particular time of year, see our full guide to weather in Paris, season by season. You may also want to consult our tips on the best time to visit the capital. Finally, check out our guide to what to do on wet, rainy days in Paris to make sure you plan for plenty of indoor activities.