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Best Places to Visit in France in January


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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January in France

Visiting France in January makes for an exciting and enchanting holiday. France provides crisp winters, the snowy Alps, sparkling fairy lights on boutiques, and popular tourist destinations that can often be enjoyed with less pushing, shoving, and wielding of cameras. 

If you are longing for short days and cold winters that means getting cozy in your hotel with a chocolat chaud, France in winter is for you. Some of the most beautiful cities in France also make excellent cultural getaways thanks to excellent museums, art galleries, and local cuisine.

France is a treasure trove for winter fun. From some of the finest European ski resorts to ice climbing near Mont Blanc, France is the place to be for winter sports. But France is not just a cold destination; check out the French Caribbean for winter sun!

In this post, we’ll talk about the best places to visit in France in January and the weather you can expect during this month.

Samoëns - French Alps

Weather in France in January

Depending on where you visit, the weather in France in January varies drastically. Visit cities like Paris in winter and average temperatures are around 4-5 °C. Find yourself in the French Alps, and you may experience temperatures as cold as -18°C on the slopes but Take a trip to Hyères on the Mediterranean coast, and you can experience moderate January temperatures of 13°C (without mentioning the islands in the Caribbean, where you will be basking in the sunshine!)

If we stick to France’s mainland, January in France is considered to be one of the coldest months. Average daily temperatures in January are around 7°C, with evening temperatures dropping to around 3°C. France averages around 15 days of rainfall, but it also depends on where you are.

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Best Places to Visit in January in France

1. Paris

Paris is a year-round destination, but visiting Paris in January offers its own unique perks. Paris’ top tourist attractions like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles are less frequented in January. Even some of the city’s free museums, like the Musée Bourdelle and the Musée Cognacq-Jay, are much quieter. 

You could decide to start the New Year in Paris! But if you are looking for a little post-Christmas treat, many Parisian art galleries and museums have some fascinating exhibits to visit in January.

January is also the perfect time to pick up some bargains in Paris’ retail stores. From around mid-January to the start of February there are fantastic sales in Paris. Head to the high-end Boulevard Haussmann, a 2.5km shopping street, and you’ll find discounts on high-end fashion brands. 

2. Ski in the Alps

The French Alps are one of the best places to visit in France in January, especially for any winter sports lover. Between January and February, the snow conditions are amazing, and skiers and snowboarders will be in an adrenaline-filled winter wonderland. 

Whether you are a beginner just starting out or a seasoned professional, there’s a French Alps ski resort for you. Courchevel is one of the largest resorts in the Alps, with more than 150km of alpine runs. Val d’Isère is another popular destination right on the Italian border.

With incredible scenery, top-class skiing, amazing dining, and many other fun winter activities, the French Alps is one of the best places to go in France in January.

3. Spa Retreat at Vichy, Auvergne

Vichy - Wellness

Vichy, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, is a lovely place to visit in France in January and is renowned as one of the largest spas in France. Known to the Romans as Vicus Calidus, Vichy acquired fame for its alkaline springs in the 17th century.

In the 19th century, Napoleon III encouraged the building of a new spa town laid out with parks and boulevards, grand bath complexes, a casino and theatre, hotels, and villas. The aristocrats who followed the Emperor to Vichy used to frequent this spa town, making it the most popular destination of its kind.

The town has been set up to give visitors ample opportunity for relaxation and pampering, especially for visitors seeking health benefits from its thermal baths.

Here, you can bathe in the Célestins Spring, which was originally founded by nuns in 1410. It’s believed that these naturally carbonated waters contain a variety of healthy minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, calcium, and lithium.

A spa holiday in Vichy is one of the best things to do in France in January. Even before you arrive you can tailor your trip to your needs. You can choose from a variety of services that focus on a plethora of mental and physical health objectives.

4. Martinique 

Best things to do in Martinique, French Antilles

If you’re looking to escape winter weather, why not head to Martinique? Martinique is an island in the French Caribbean and is known for its seductive white sandy beaches and crystal blue seas. Whether you choose to relax on one of the Martinique beaches or hike up Mount Pelée, the island’s active volcano, the island is a fantastic destination for a winter getaway.

The island is brimming with landscapes, culture, and things to see and do. Nature lovers will revel in the flora at the Balata Botanical Garden. For epic views of Mount Pelée, head to the coastal town of Saint-Pierre. Saint-Pierre was once known as the Pearl of the West Indies until the destructive1902 eruption of Mount Pelée.

5. Sarlat and its Truffle Festival

Sarlat-la-Caneda - Dordogne

Sarlat is one of the most stunning places to visit in Dordogne, with an incredible heritage, charming architecture, and one of the best medieval historic centers in Europe. 

There are many fun things to do in Sarlat, but one of the town’s most popular winter activities is the Fête de la Truffe (Truffle Festival). This festival happens annually around mid-January and is dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the truffle. You can head to the market, which sells all the best regional truffles and an array of diverse truffle products.

There are also truffle workshops that help truffle enthusiasts identify authentic and top-quality truffles. For the kids, there are truffle-themed cookery workshops. Ever wondered how to search for a truffle? Well, you can learn about that too at their truffle hunting demonstration.

6. Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe - France

Where to go in France in January for a sunny beach holiday? Guadeloupe, in the French Antilles, offers visitors the chance to swap their winter vacation for a Caribbean summer atmosphere.

Active travelers will love this as a warm winter destination for its incredible hiking, swimming, and cycling opportunities while Nature lovers will enjoy diving at Jacques Cousteau’s Underwater Reserve, the mangroves, and the island’s fairytale waterfalls.

One of the best ways to explore the main island is by taking a road trip. You can check car rental options in Guadeloupe here.

And there you have it, the best places to visit in France in January and what to do. Which places tempt you most to spend January in France? If you need more suggestions, check out our post on the best places to visit in France in February.

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