Weather in France in December

Is December a good time to go to France?

It is cold and wet across the country and some areas experience snowfall, which, for most people, is not immediately appealing. However, the French Alps are busy as the skiing season takes off and people come for budget holidays in France at Christmas time. The French populate local cafes and restaurants, so the cuisine is authentic and the main attractions are relatively empty as well, leaving plenty of time to leisurely peruse the galleries and museums of Paris or find a small vineyard to enjoy in Bordeaux.

Climate in France in December

South France is relatively warm, sometimes reaching up to 14°C (39°F and 57°F), but the rest of the country is typically below 10°C, with elevated and alpine areas often well below zero (0°C, 32°F). The south, eastern and northern regions are the wettest, with up to 100mm (3.9in) of rain, while the rest of the country typically has less than 80mm (2.4in). In recent years, flooding has caused many travel delays and snowfall, especially common in the northern and alpine regions, may hinder travel as well. It is important to stay up to date with weather forecasts to avoid any problems. 


What’s on in France in December

Find artisan foods, good music and wine stalls at one of the Christmas markets. Paris and other major cities have large Christmas light displays as well; some of the biggest markets take place in Reims, Limousin, Boulogne-sur-mer and Strousberg. Markets will often have ice-rinks too, so there is something for the whole family. 

Every winter the government subsidises sales across the country, so it’s high time to shop for some French Haute Couture at a bargain price.

For an Avant garde Christmas, go to the Rennes Trans Musicales Festival where innovative musicians entertain the crowds with quirky sounds and conceptual tunes. The Festival of Lights in Lyon is another unique, albeit more traditional event that has been running for over 150 years and is one of the best displays in the country. Finally, travel to a major city and enjoy usher in the New Year in French style.


What to pack for a holiday in France in December

Its best to pack dark coloured synthetic clothing as it dries faster than wool or cotton and shows less dirt than lighter clothing. Bring long sleeved shirts, warm tops and thermals, warm jerseys and a warm waterproof coat or raincoat for the cold, and hats, scarves and gloves add extra comfort.  Trainers or closed toed shoes are okay for the city, but boots or amphibian walking shoes are first prize. Snow sports travellers should bring as many thick, waterproof items as possible and ask resorts what to bring along in advance. Pack some smart clothing for a special night out or, alternatively, buy something special at a winter sale.