France in Springtime
Let’s face it: Travel to Europe in the Springtime is an excellent time to go. The weather is mild, crowds are smaller, and everything is in bloom. It’s a perfect time to enjoy those outdoor cafes. And the Spring is an excellent time to visit France. In this blog post, I will cover just some of the places where Spring is the best time to visit. For the purposes of this blog post “Springtime” is the period from March through May.
Giverny - Monet's Garden
Located just 50 miles outside of Paris, Giverny is a popular day spot or combined with a trip to the Palace of Versailles. In Giverny, the main attraction is the home and gardens of Claude Monet. Monet was the founder of Impressionist paintings. Monet was born in Paris in 1840, but moved to Giverny in 1890 after returning from living in London. He created these gardens and used them as the subject of his later paintings.
Getting to Giverny can be accomplished in a lot of ways. It is a popular stop for river cruises on the Seine, or guided tours from Paris.
In the spring, the apple trees will bloom in the Normandy region. The two major draws in this region are the beachheads of the D-Day invasion, the American Cemetary, and the impressive Abbey at Mont St. Michel. But there is more to this area in the towns throughout the region. These include Cherbourg, Le Havre and Honfleur. And the seaside town of Brest is not far away, either.
If you want to visit French Chateaux, the Loire Valley is the place to do it. It is located about 130 miles southwest of Paris and extends along Loire River. Some of this region’s more famous cities and towns include Tours, Amboise, and Blois. One of the most famous chateaux in this region is the Château de Chenonceau. This chateau spans the Cher River and was completed in the year 1515. Other notable chateaux in this region include Château de Chambord, Château de Villandry and Château d’Amboise.
You can take a TGV train from Paris to Tours in in about 2 hours, but why not just stay in the region for a couple of days?
Continuing south from the Loire Valley, you will end up in the Provence region. Admittedly, the March-May time frame will be a little early to see the lavender fields in full bloom, but there is still plenty to see and do in this region. After all, you will be on the Cote d’Azur along the southern coast. Notable town to visit in this region include Nice, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.
Springtime Events and Festivals in France
Fète du Travail
Celebrated throughout Europe is May Day, their version of Labor Day. There will be parades, festivals, and other events throughout France. The holiday is always May 1.
Nuit des Musées
France is loaded with museums, and they vary in terms of how much they charge for admission. But, one night each year in mid-May, they are open free of charge across the country. In 2023, that date was Saturday, May 14. This includes the most famous museums in Paris.
Held in the city of Angers, in the Loire Valley, the Festival D’Anjou is a large open air theater festival that has been going on since the 1950’s. In 2023, there were over 25,000 attendees. The dates of this event can vary, from April to June, so if you want to attend, you check in advance.
There are several ways to visit these areas, including river cruises and escorted tours. For a custom independent itinerary, I recommend the following. For this itinerary, I would allow up to 14 days.
Paris makes the most obvious place to start, as you most likely will be flying in to Paris De Gaulle (CDG) Airport. Allow three days, not including the first day, to get a good appreciation of the city. There will be more than enough to fill your days there, including the neighborhoods of Montmartre and Marais, and walk along the Champs Élysées. Among other places to visit, there is the Eiffel Tower, the Arc d’Triomphe and the Jardins de Tuilieries. There are also several world famous museums, including the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. On one of your days there, makeyour way to Giverny to visit the Monet Gardens.
A visit to Normandy and the surrounding area should also allow up to three days. Specific places to visit include Mont St. Michel, Omaha Beach, and the American Cemetary.
After Normandy, make your way to Tours. From Cherbourg or Le Havre, the trip by train will take approximately 5 hours. From Tours, you will be in an excellent position to visit either the Loire Valley or the Bordeaux region. I recommend allowing for at least two days in this area.
From Tours, continue on to Lyon. Lyon is the second largest city in France and is famous as the Gastronomical capital of France. The city also has several impressive sites, including Roman artifacts.
From Tours, continue on to Nice. towns to visit here will include Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Marseilles. Enjoy the French Rivera! Afterwards, make your way back to Paris for your return home.