While it may come as a surprise, one of the best times to visit France is during the winter months. You can experience the country with less crowds while still taking advantage of all of the rich cultural offerings. In fact, there are numerous food and wine and outdoor and adventure excursions only available in the cooler months. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s picks for what to see and do during the winter in France.
Winter in France: What to See and Do
Provence: Private Truffle Hunting and Tasting Tour
From November until April, you’ll have the chance to explore the world’s most secretive and exciting business. Visit a Provençal truffle plantation where you’ll take a tour, learn about the cultivation of truffles as well as the training of truffle dogs. Afterwards, accompany trained hunters to hunt for France’s elusive “black gold.” You’ll soon know the difference between a real Provençal tuber melanosporum and its inferior Chinese counterparts as well as the process of cleaning, storing, and cooking truffles.
Truffles aren’t the only thing you’ll discover on the exciting tour. Along the way you’ll see wild herbs, vineyards, olive groves, and beehives.
Following the hunt, enjoy different hors d’oeuvres including truffle ice cream and truffle honey, a tasting of the plantation’s own truffle oils, truffle salts, and organic extra-virgin olive oils paired with Champagne. A wonderful winter in France foodie experience!
Where to Stay in Provence
Villa Saint Ange
This 5-star hotel is unique in Aix-en-Provence. Housed in an 18th-century villa with expansive grounds, it is nevertheless within walking distance of the historic city center.
Rooms and suites are large with modern amenities and sophisticated décor.
The onsite restaurant offers a take on Mediterranean and Italian classes. Lunch on the large terrace is divine in warm weather. The bar serves creative cocktails inspired by artists like Picasso and Vasarely.
Guests can enjoy access to the spa, gym, heated swimming pool, terrace, and large garden.
Loire Valley: Exceptional Vintage Wine Tasting
With the Loire River, north meets south. Thanks to the mild climate and all the different “terroirs,” there is a wonderful diversity of wines: 50 appellations and PDO for 70,000 hectares of vineyards.
You will find a large choice among the refreshing, fruity and delicate rosés, reds that are both complex and easy drinking, and whites ranging from dry to sweet reds. There are also wonderful sparkling wines produced using the same method as Champagnes. The wines are all perfect for specific food pairings because most are made with a single grape variety.
Visit a domaine with an astonishing 10th century cellar, excavated in limestone. It contains very rare wines from exceptional years which date back to 1874. You will have the chance to take a tour of the cellar, during which some of the secrets of the winemaking will be revealed. During the tasting you’ll enjoy a variety of wines, including five exceptional vintage wines, paired with local charcuterie.
French Alps: After Hours Skiing
Have you ever dreamed of having the iconic French Alps slopes to yourself? With this unique winter in France experience, it’s completely possible. You’ll have the opportunity to continue skiing after the slopes are closed for the day. You’ll meet your expert guide at the top of Courchevel to have a drink and enjoy the sunset.
Then, once the sky is dark and everyone is at home, you’ll have the entire slope to yourself and experience after hours skiing at night. This is an excellent opportunity to take in the unique view of the lights of Courchevel from above!
Burgundy: Private Mulled Wine and Gingerbread Experience
The wintertime is the best time to enjoy hot mulled wine. The best, of course, come from Burgundy! Tour Philippe le Bon, which is over 150 feet tall, provides an exceptional panoramic view of the city of Dijon and its surroundings. It’s an ideal, yet unexpected, place to enjoy a hot beverage.
After a climb to the top, you’ll be able to sip mulled wine paired with gingerbread, which is another specialty of Burgundy. During this unique experience you’ll have the Tour Philippe le Bon completely to yourself. A unique and romantic winter moment in France indeed.
Where to Stay in Burgundy
Le Relais Bernard Loiseau
This 5-star hotel is located in the Morvan regional natural park in the heart of Dijon. The 33 rooms and suites are organized on four levels, served by the emblematic oak stair tower. The rooms of the hotel are authentically furnished and have a heritage look blended with modern amenities and comforts.
The restaurant embodies the excellence and attachment to the land of Burgundy. The chef seeks to bring nature, specifically the Morvan, into the plate.
The spa has been multi-distinguished for the unique experience it offers to customers. It is composed of a multi-sensory space for an intense and diverse stimulation of the five senses along with another space conducive to relaxation and well-being.
Versailles: VIP Experience at the Château de Versailles
Experience one of the most popular landmarks in France without all of the crowds. During this unique private tour, a guide of the Palace will take you to discover the lesser-known gems of the amazing Château.
The Palace of Versailles holds genuine treasures that are unknown to most visitors – think secret passages, rooms, private apartments, bathrooms and other hidden places. Apartments belonging to kings, queens, mistresses and courtiers in this royal residence, a symbol of French absolutism and artistic and cultural influence, reveal everyday life in the Court and key events in the history of France.
After your tour, it’s only fitting to relive the sumptuous evenings of the King. From the menu to the waiters’ attire, from the setting to the tableware, everything comes together to make a dinner in the Ducasse salons at the Château de Versailles an experience. For this 12-course dinner, Alain Ducasse carried out careful research and took his inspiration from 18th century menus. Yet behind the ancient names you’ll discover a contemporary interpretation of the cuisine. Beyond dinner, it is a genuine experience.
Ready to see and do all of the fabulous offerings this winter in France? There’s still time to make it happen! Our travel designers are standing by and can help you book any of these activities and create the perfect fall itinerary in France. Some of our most popular fall destinations include Normandy, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, and Southern France.