Visiting Paris in March: What To See and Do?

Jardin du Luxembourg. Luxembourg Garden. Paris. 16th March 2017
••• Virginie Blanquart/Getty Images

Unless you're a subtle soul who finds poetic inspiration in winter landscapes and activities, Paris in March comes as a relief after months of dark, cold days. It may not be the mad symphony of blossoms and whirling pollen that April and May so often bring, but there's 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.

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 Paris parks and gardens, soak up any available sun and warmth on a cafe terrace, or fully enjoy walking around in one of the city's charming 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' ever-expanding Irish community.

The March Thermometer:

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. These are the key annual averages to keep in mind as you prepare to embark on your trip:

  • Minimum temperature: 5 degrees C (41 degrees F)
  • Maximum temperature: 11 degrees C (51.8 degrees F)
  • Average temperature: 7 degrees C (44.6 degrees F)
  • Average rainfall: 41 millimeters (1.6 inches)

How to Pack for Your March Trip in the French Capital?

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. 

What to See & Do in March? 

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. For even more events, including exhibitions and festivals on this year along with dates, see our March calendar

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 at our complete guide, here

Stroll Around These Lovely Parisian Gardens and Parks 

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. 

Find more inspiring green spaces to roam around in our full guide to the best parks and gardens in Paris. 

Enjoy a Day Trip Outside of the City 

Finally, March generally includes at least a few warm (or at the very least, "warm-ish" 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 doing a little beginner-level rock climbing. Isn't the fresh air a bit of a relief?