March can be a nice time to do a driving tour of France if you want to avoid the tourist crowds that arrive later in the season. From mid-March, the temperatures start to feel more spring-like, especially in the south of France. Northern France in March tends to still be a little cold and rainy, but this may not be a problem - it really depends what kind of activities you'd like to do on your trip. Let us know and we can advise!
In this post, we share information about the weather across France in March, festivals and events, and some of the best places to visit and things to do.
France Weather in March
Overall, March can be a bit unpredictable in France, with the chance of both sunny and rainy days, depending on the region. Temperatures are still quite chilly, particularly in the northern parts of the country, but generally begin to increase towards the end of the month as spring approaches.
In Northern France, including the city of Lille, the average high temperature is around 11°C (52°F), and the average low is around 3°C (37°F). The weather in the north generally cold and cloudy, with occasional rain or snow.
The weather in Paris is often chilly and overcast in March, the average high temperature being around 13°C (55°F), and the average low around 5°C (41°F). You should expect some rainy days.
In the south of France the weather is milder with average high temperatures of around 15°C (59°F), and the average low is around 7°C (45°F). You may get some showers in the south in March, but there will be far more sunny days than in other parts of France.
For more information about the weather in France, visit our FAQ page!
Festivals and Events in France in March
These are two festivals that can be particularly nice to attend if you're on one of our self guided tours of Normandy in March. Occasionally, the Nice Carnaval also falls in March, but usually this is in late February, so we haven't included it in the list.
Bayeux International Circus Festival, Normandy
The Bayeux International Circus Festival is a great opportunity to experience the magic and excitement of the circus if you’re in Normandy in March. The festival has been running every two years for the last 20 years and features circus acts from all over the world, with acrobats, clowns, jugglers, aerialists, and more.
The festival runs across several days, with multiple performances held at the Théâtre de Bayeux and other venues throughout the city. In addition to the circus acts, there are also workshops and other activities for both children and adults.
It’s a popular event, so if you’d like to go we recommend booking tickets in advance.
Canadian Film Festival in Dieppe, Normandy
The Canadian Film Festival, also called the Festival du Film Canadien de Dieppe, is usually in late March and showcases a selection of Canadian films, including both feature-length and short films.
The festival also features Q&A sessions with directors and actors, as well as other related events such as workshops, exhibitions, and concerts. The festival is open to the public and information about ticket sales for the festival can be found on the festival's official website or social media pages.
Best Places to visit in France in March
In March, the weather in the south of France is milder and sunnier than in the rest of France, making it a great time to explore the colorful coastal towns and cities. In Nice, you can stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais, explore the old town, go shopping in the city's luxury boutiques, and if you enjoy art visit the Matisse or Chagall museums.
The Nice Carnival, one of the most vibrant festivals in the world, sometimes takes place in early March (though more often in late February).
If you want to escape the city, some of our favorite places within a short drive from Nice include Villefranche-sur Mer, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and the colorful town of Menton, close to the Italian border.
We can help you discover all of these places on our self-drive tours of the French Riviera.
Lyon is in eastern France and is the third largest city in France after Paris and Marseille. One of the best things to do if you're visiting Lyon in March is explore the city's old town, Vieux Lyon, which is home to many historical buildings, cobblestone streets, and delightful restaurants. If you're interested in architecture, you'll notice a range of styles in Lyon, from medieval and Renaissance to neoclassical and modernist. Look out for the Gothic Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the Romanesque Saint Martin d'Ainay Abbey, the Renaissance Hôtel de Ville, and the contemporary Musée des Confluences.
Lyon is also famous for its traboules, a network of secret passageways and courtyards that run through the old town. They were originally used by silk weavers to transport their goods from their workshops to the river, to avoid exposing them to the elements. There are tours of the traboules, some are public while others are now private. If you book a self guided tour of Lyon with us, we'll share with you our favorite public ones and their locations!
If the weather's nice, it's quite pleasant to take a stroll along the banks of the Saône River or through Parc de la Tête d'Or to see the botanical garden. And of course, Lyon is famous for its food and wine, so be sure to try some of the city's culinary delights. We recommend traditional Lyonnaise dishes like saucisson brioché, quenelles and andouillette, paired with local Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône wine.
We will share all of our favorite places to visit and eat if you decide to book one of our tours!
Since March is still quite cold in many parts of France, we have to recommend our self drive tours of Provence in southern France. Like the French Riviera, temperatures will be milder in Provence than in the rest of France, so you should already be able to enjoy some outdoor activities (although be prepared for some rainy days).
Normally our travelers in Provence stay in premium B&B accommodation in Aix-en-Provence or Avignon. This are well-located for exploring other areas of Provence, and the cities themselves are beautiful.
The walled city of Avignon is home to UNESCO World Heritage Site the Palace of the Popes, former seat of the Catholic Popes, and the Pont Saint-Bénézet bridge, which crosses the Rhône River. Not far from Avignon are the gorgeous towns of Arles and Saint-Remy-de-Provence, famous for their association with Vincent van Gogh and many of the scenes he painted. There are also Roman ruins to see in Arles. The Pont du Gard Roman bridge is also an easy drive from Avignon.
We also like to recommend Les Baux-de-Provence, a medieval hilltop village with a castle. It is very beautiful and we particularly like the Carrieres de Lumieres digital art exhibition, which is in an old stone quarry.
The beautiful university town of Aix-en-Provence has a charming old town with colorful markets, fountains, and beautiful architecture, including the stunning Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur. You can also visit the studio where Paul Cezanne used to work, with his furniture and work tools still in place. And we'll suggest some beautiful landscapes to see just outside of Aix.
Marseille, France's second-largest city, is also worth a visit, with a beautiful port area, the famous Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, and the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MUCEM).
Best Things to do in France in March
Explore Paris's most famous attractions
There aren't as many tourists in Paris in March (although keep in mind it will be busy if Easter falls in March). This means it's the ideal time to visit the most popular and busiest attractions.
Get Skip-the-Line tickets for the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, see beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral from the outside, and visit lesser-known attractions such as the Rodin Museum and it's beautiful sculpture garden. The gardens of Versailles should already be in spring bloom in March, so be sure to leave time to visit the gardens as well as the Palace. If you book a self guided tour of Paris (which may include tours with a private tour guide, if you wish), we'll explain the best way to avoid the lines at the Palace of Versailles!
Go skiing in the French Alps
Early March is still a great time to enjoy the ski slopes. We don't plan skiing vacations, but we know some nice locations that we can recommend.
We like La Joue du Loup, a small family ski resort which is almost guaranteed snow from mid-January until early March. The acccommodation is mostly wooden chalets with lots of pine trees. It doesn't feel as touristy as other resorts, so we think it's a great option.
Explore the castles and gardens of the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley, known for its beautiful châteaux, is less crowded in March, which makes visiting the castles and gardens a more pleasant and relaxing experience. Many of these are open all year round.
Some popular châteaux to visit in the Loire Valley include Château de Chambord, Château de Chenonceau, and Château de Villandry. We also love a little privately-owned castle that not many tourists know about the Chateau de l'Islette. It has a beautiful lake, and gardens that are lovely for a picnic if the weather's nice.
Cycling in the Loire Valley is also a great option, and an activity that many of our travelers enjoy. The advantage of visiting the Loire Valley in March, again, is that the bike paths are less crowded than in peak season. There are many bike rental shops throughout the region (we recommend our favorites to our travelers), and visitors can enjoy cycling through the beautiful countryside, visiting châteaux and charming towns along the way. On our self-drive tours of the Loire Valley, we recommend our favorite Loire Valley cycling routes.
FAQ about traveling to France in March
How hot is France in March?
The weather in France in March can be unpredictable, tending to be cold and even sometimes snowy at the beginning of the month, turning more spring-like by the end. It is not hot, and you'll likely experience both sunny and rainy days. It will be cold in northern France, including Paris, with the average high temperature being about 55°F (13°C) and the average low around 41°F (5°C).
The warmest part of France will be the south of France near the Mediterranean coast, with temperatures a few degrees celsius warmer than in the north and more sunny days.
Where is the hottest in France in March?
The hottest regions of France in March are Provence and the French Riviera.
Is March a good month to visit France?
Visiting France in late March is not a bad option. The weather will be getting milder and the days longer. If you're interested in visiting museums (i.e. indoor activities) or are planning to visit the south of France, March can be a good time to visit as these places won't be as busy as they are at other times of year (except when Easter falls in March). However, you'll be guaranteed better weather in late-spring, early summer and early to mid fall.
We hope this post has inspired you to plan a trip France! If you decide to travel in March, you should avoid the big tourist crowds that arrive later in the year.
However, we want you to enjoy the nicest weather and have the best experience in France possible. So do take a look at our other monthly guides in case you would prefer to travel between late spring and early fall, the best time to visit France.
Not sure when to come? Contact us, tell us the places you would most like to visit and the things you would like to do, and we’ll be very happy to advise you on this!
Considering visiting France in a different month? Check out our other guides below: