Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
February in France
You might wonder if traveling to France in February is a good idea or not. France offers an incredible array of places to visit and activities to do during the winter. From north to south, France boasts excellent museums, outstanding landmarks, and cozy restaurants and cafès where you can spend hours in blissful peace, away from the outside cold. But, if cold winters are right up your alley, France can also offer you the beautiful snowy Alps and winter-wonderland villages.
The most popular destinations, like Paris, can be enjoyed with smaller crowds, and February is also the month of exciting festivals happening in the southern part of the country.
As you may have realized by now, visiting France in winter is a fantastic idea, especially if you don’t like crowds!; however, to convince you even more, in this post, we will dive into the best places to visit in France in February.
Weather in France in February
Depending on where you will travel, the weather in France in February varies drastically. Generally speaking, the south of the country tends to be warmer and sunnier. Consider that in Nice, the temperature will be around 10°C or 50°F.
In cities like Paris, the average temperatures are around 4°C or 40°F and could get as low as freezing. Likewise, Northern France tends to be damp and cold in February. While in the French Alps, you may experience temperatures as drastically low as -18°C or -0,4°F on the slopes.
Rainfall is expected throughout February, with an average of 10 to 15 rainy days across the country.
Best Places to Visit France in February
So where to go in France in February? Here’s our selection of the best places to go and top things to do in France in February.
What Happens in France in February? Check out our list of major celebrations and festivals in France in February.
Visiting the stunning French capital is always a good idea, and why not do it in February, the most romantic month of the year? Affectionately known as the City of Love, Paris is one of the most romantic cities in Europe, so celebrating Valentine’s Day in Paris can’t help but be wonderful. From a romantic cruise to the Seine River to admiring the Eiffel Tower lit up at night to sharing a sublime meal in an elegant restaurant, here are our suggestions for a romantic getaway to Paris.
But, Paris has much more to offer. The city has excellent indoor activities to do. You can spend hours checking out its world-renowned museums and art galleries, shopping inside impressive malls, and relaxing and warming up while enjoying a cup of tea or chocolat chaud and delicious French pastries.
Another great activity to do in Paris in February? Attending the Chinese New Year’s Parade in the 13th Arrondissement, animated by colorful lanterns, traditional music, and the unmissable dragon dance.
Less than half an hour’s drive from the Belgian border, the town of Dunkerque (Dunkirk) boasts one of the best carnivals in France. From 21 January to 26 February 2024, the city and nearby villages get festive with balls and parades until the “Three Joyful Days” (‘Trois Joyeuses’) preceding Ash Wednesday. What’s so unique about the Dunkirk Carnival is that it actually lasts three months, from mid-January to mid-April, but with the “proper” carnival parade happening on the week of Mardi Gras.
It all started at the beginning of the 18th century when fishermen preparing to sail up to Iceland for cod fishing began throwing the last masquerade banquet before their perilous 6-month expedition.
Today, locals still dress up in funny dresses and wigs. The highlight of the Carnival week is the Shrove Tuesday, with its giant parade and the traditional throwing of smoked herrings from the City Hall’s balcony!
In February, France boasts another great event you shouldn’t miss: the Menton Lemon Festival. This popular event takes place in the lovely town of Menton, in the French Riviera, and it is a carnival-like festival centering around locally-grown citruses. Each year, the festival has a different theme, and all the citruses-made sculptures, floats, and exhibitions follow it.
From 17 February to 3 March 2024, Menton will be transformed into a citrus fantasy land with many activities to have fun with.
The first festival was inspired by a local hotel owner who, in 1928, decorated the hotel’s gardens with an exhibition of citrus fruits and flowers. The idea was such a success that the city council took it over until it turned the festival into the amazing event we can enjoy today.
Check out my article on the Fête du Citron in Menton to discover all there is to do during this incredible festival.
4. Ski in the French Alps
One of the best places to visit in France in February is the French Alps. During this month, the snow conditions are just perfect, so everyone who loves skiing or snowboarding will surely have a blast.
Whether you are an amateur skier or a seasoned professional, you can’t go wrong by staying in one of the beautiful ski resorts of the French Alps. The list is long and wide, and there is something for every taste and budget. Among the most popular ski resorts are Courchevel, boasting more than 150 km of alpine runs, and Les Arcs, which comprises five sites with around 262 runs.
If you are not much into adrenaline-filled and sporty activities, you can always enjoy your time with other winter activities and have wonderful foods (like fondue) and drinks inside dream-like wooden chalets with spectacular views.
Incredible scenery, top-class skiing, and amazing dining will make your French Alps trip in February memorable.
5. Take the Route du Mimosa
An alternative activity to do in France in February is driving along the stunning Route du Mimosa (D559). Stretching in the Var and Alpes-Maritimes departments, the area’s extraordinary scenery and natural beauty give their best from the end of January, when mimosa flowers start to bloom.
The Route du Mimosa is around 130 kilometers long, running from Bormes-les-Mimosas to the perfume capital, Grasse. The road passes through many beautiful towns and villages, where you can stop by to smell the fragrant scent of mimosas and attend local festivals.
Among the best towns to visit along the route is Mandelieu-la-Napoule, considered the Mimosa Capital and part of the “Golden Triangle,” where most mimosa farmers are settled. Grasse is the world capital of perfumes, and there are many workshops where you can create your own fragrance.
Drive along this scenic route through southeast Provence to admire bright, yellow mimosas adorning gardens, fields, and the coast of the French Riviera. Have fun at the Mimosa Festivals in different towns along the road.
If there is a winter wonderland in France, it is Annecy. Nicknamed “The Pearl of the French Alps,” Annecy is just perfect for visiting in February. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains that make the town and its lake even more charming, Annecy is peculiarly famous for the Venetian-inspired Carnival.
From February 23 to 25, 2024, Annecy’s cobblestone streets will be covered by hundreds of people wearing elegant costumes and splendid masks and spontaneously parading around the Old Town and charming canals.
Known for its elegant and refined style, Annecy Carnival attracts visitors from all over Europe who want to see the Venetian masks. This carnival is similar to the one in Venice because Annecy and Venice are official sister cities for promoting cultural exchange.
If you have always wanted to attend Venice’s Carnival, I highly recommend coming to Annency instead! Check out our suggested itinerary for a weekend getaway in Annecy.
Bordeaux is an excellent trip choice for a getaway to France in February and a great alternative to the busier Paris for a romantic getaway. During this month, you can enjoy the city’s lively streets without the tourist crowds and admire the marvelous Old Town in tranquillity.
There are many things you can do in Bordeaux with your partner. Visit the interesting Cité du Vin, a unique museum for an immersive journey through the culture of wine, or take a romantic cruise along the Garonne River at night.
Another unmissable activity in Bordeaux is doing a wine tour of the marvelous châteaux in the Bordeaux Wine Area. In February, the vines are sleeping, and there’s not much to see, but inside the cellars, there’s a lot happening. In winter, the fermentation ends, and winemakers start with the blending of the grape varietals. Also, the châteaux are less busy with tourists, so the staff in charge of tours have more time to share their knowledge and discuss during the wine-tasting part.
And there you have it, where to go in France in February and what to do. Which places tempt you most to spend February in France? If you need more suggestions, check out our post on the best places to visit in France in January.