Springtime is the perfect time to enjoy France. The days are longer and colorful blossoms transform cities as well as the countryside. There are plenty of bright sunny days to enjoy, although the warmest temperatures are usually found in the south. France in Spring is delightful, as all the streets and popular tourist places are still relatively quiet so that you can relax and take in the scenery at your own pace.
The weather can be a little unpredictable, so always take a light coat and an umbrella with you. If it does start to rain, you can always pop into a café for a cup of good French coffee, or try the delicious French cuisine, knowing that the clouds will soon pass and the sun will be out again.
To fully embrace and enjoy France in Spring, we put together a wonderful list of popular places and best kept secrets, as recommended by local expats living in France.
Here are 10 of the best places to visit and things to do in the Spring in France:
1. Enjoy Paris in the Spring
Paris is one of the most popular cities to visit at any time of the year, but the springtime blossom makes the French capital extra special. It is fun to wander around Paris and to take in all the sights.
Notre Dame is still being restored following the devastating fire of April 2019 and although entry into this magnificent 850 year old cathedral is not possible, there is a series of excellent information boards that detail all the rescue plans and progress of the restoration work.
If you are taking a stroll along the Champs Elysée it is fun to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the pavement cafés and if the weather is really good, a boat trip on the Seine is perfect.
2. Admire the cherry tree in Jardin des Plantes
For a short Spring trip to Paris, the beautiful Jardin des Plantes in the 5th Arrondissement is definitely a place to visit. During springtime, the gardens are transformed by beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees all blooming in the sunshine.
One particular tree, a real must see, is a huge cherry tree dripping in blossom. The tree is situated along the path from the Pont d’Austerlitz entrance and in front of the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution.
By late March, early April, it is in full bloom with thousands of snowy white flowers. The cherry tree is a Japanese variety called Shirota, which means snow white. This beautiful tree has a circumference of nearly 20 meters (about 20 yards).
3.Visit Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny France
Situated just one hour from Paris at Giverny, are the famous Pink House and gardens of Claude Monet that were his home – with his eight children — for 43 years. The gardens open on April 1st and will be open for five months until November, a perfect stop in your Spring trip around France.
His gardens are divided into two sections. The first part is a flower garden called Clos Normand that stands in front of his house and is a riot of color, texture and variety. These gardens cover more than a hectare of land and have beautiful, color-themed, flowerbeds.
During the springtime, there are beautiful tulips and these will be followed by irises, oriental poppies and peonies, which were all inspiration for Monet’s famous paintings.
The famous Japanese inspired water garden with its wisteria covered wooden bridge, is found on the other side of the road. It was here that Monet painted his favorite works.
In July, the water garden is at its best as all the beautiful water lilies are in bloom, but there are beautiful flowers to admire in Clos Normand all year through.
In addition to enjoying the gardens in Springtime, it is fun to explore Monet’s restored house with its famous yellow dining room and his artist’s studio.
4. Climb Mont Saint Michel
This iconic, conically shaped holy island is located off the Normandy coast and a great place to see in the Spring in France. The mount is surrounded by water at high tide and is topped by a beautiful abbey. Since 966 it was the home of Benedictine monks, the same order that constructed the buildings on Saint Michael’s mount in Cornwall (UK). Mont St Michel soon became a place of pilgrimage and centre of learning, attracting some of the best manuscript illuminators in Europe.
By mid-summer, Mont Saint Michel gets incredibly busy, but in the early days of spring it is perfect. To get to the Mont you can walk from the car parking, get the shuttle bus, or for something special, there are horse-drawn carriages (maringote). Today, museums, restaurants and shops line the main street to the abbey. The walk up to the abbey is narrow, uphill and on cobblestones, so comfortable shoes are a must.
5. Learn about wine in Bordeaux
The beautiful port city of Bordeaux is world famous for its wines and its architecture. It’s a great city to explore on foot and by tram in the spring sunshine. There is plenty to see and do in a long weekend in the city including its modern Cité du Vin – the world’s largest wine museum which opened in 2016.
You can take a vineyard tour or taste some wine, in one of the many specialist shops. Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 350 listed historical buildings including three churches that stand on Camino de Santiago – the pilgrimage route of the Way of St James. The River Garonne flows through the city so a boat trip is an really excellent way to see it.
6. Relax in the beautiful Loire Valley
As soon as Spring arrives, the stunning châteaux and palatial homes of the 170 mile (280 kilometer) long Loire Valley begin to re-open. Many of them like Château de Cheverny stand among pretty springtime flowers like lilac and wisteria.
Exploring the Loire is particularly appealing to those who love architecture and history. The Loire is well known for its fine dry white wines such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Chenin Blanc as well as a number of sparkling wines, so there are plenty of winery tours available. Tours is the capital of the region and is a delightful place to stay.
7. Explore Alsace
Situated in north-eastern France and bordering both Switzerland and Germany, the culture of Alsace is a blend of the three cultures. Alsace celebrates the arrival of Spring with several colorful festivals.
As the weather gets warmer and sunnier, the white storks return to the region to build their nests in trees, chimney stacks and on the top of telephone poles. Munster celebrates this event with the festival called Le Printemps des Cigognes – the Spring of the Storks.
The beautiful city of Strasbourg is the capital of the region and is the second most popular city in France – after Paris. There is plenty to see and do in the city including a visit to the Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, with its famous animated astronomical clock. If you go by car, there are numerous pretty Alsatian villages to discover.
8. Admire the stunning Calanques
This very special national park is situated on Provence between Marseille and Cassis. The most striking features are a series of creeks situated between fingers of snowy white cliffs that stretch out into the sea and a large area of beautiful countryside.
The Calanques is an area of great biodiversity with more than 140 species of protected animals and plants and of these, 60 of these are marine heritage species. Many of the marine species are situated in the spectacular submarine canyon.
The Calanques can be explored by hiking, diving or canoeing.
9. Eat oysters in Arcachon
Situated in south-western France, the Arcachon Basin is a very special place to visit in the Springtime. The area is well known for its warm Spring temperatures which are the result of the Gulf Stream.
The coastline is spectacular and includes the famous Dune de Pilat. This dune is over 330 feet or 100 meters tall and measures 1.7 miles or 2.7 km from north to south. The nearby forest of Landes is impressive and Île aux Oiseaux attracts ornithologists from all over the world as it is a reserve with more than 300 different species.
Arcachon is well known for its excellent oysters which can be bought straight from producers or in the local markets and restaurants. The best way to enjoy oysters is aboard a boat on a two-hour sunset cruise which sails past the oyster farming villages of Cap Ferret.
10. Dance in the sand at St Tropez
The warmest Spring in France is enjoyed along the country’s south coast. There are numerous pretty towns in the south of France you can visit this time of year. Nice is well known for its excellent climate with mild winters and so is St Tropez, further to the west. Spring is the perfect time to explore this pretty resort which since the 1950s has been the playground of the rich and famous.
Originally a small fishing village, today St Tropez is surrounded by luxury villas. The coastline remains unchanged, a beach with golden sand, the perfect place to relax in the sun. Several little cafés in the cobblestoned streets of Le Ponche (near the harbor) serve bowls of cool cider accompanied by freshly made crêpes. For a really memorable experience why not enjoy a horse ride amongst the vineyards?
These are just some of the many places to visit in France once winter has passed and before the hot summer temperatures arrive. Everyone’s spirits are lifted by the clear blue skies and golden sunshine. It is fun just to enjoy the springtime flowers in gardens, parks and market stalls, whether on foot, bike or horseback. Besides being a quieter time of year to visit, the prices for flights, hotels and gîtes are lower too – what better incentive to explore the beauty of France in the Spring?