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Does it snow in France? During winter, not all regions in France get to experience high levels degrees of snow. France’s highest peak is Mont Blanc 4,810 metres (15,780 ft). All year long the “White mount” is covered with snow and ice and you can expect to have lots of snow in this part of the French Alps. On the contrary, the lowest points of France which are at sea level rarely have snowfalls.

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Where does it snow in France?

Winter in France takes place between November and March.

Snow is a characteristic phenomenon of the winter season in temperate latitudes such as France. The variations in climate in the different regions of France make the frequency of snowfall vary greatly from one region to another.

Snow in France (region of Annecy, French Alps) © French Moments
Snow in France (region of Annecy, French Alps) © French Moments

Snow in the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean coast is the area in France where snow is most rare. Unsurprisingly, this is due to the Mediterranean climate that gives it its name. From Perpignan to Nice, we generally observe between 1 and 3 days of snow per year. Nevertheless, although these regions are rarely affected by snow in France, when it happens, they have important episodes (this is due in particular to a dynamic and very cold eastern flow coming down from the Alps).

Antibes in Winter © Thomas Leth-Olsen - licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Antibes in Winter © Thomas Leth-Olsen – licence [CC BY-SA 2.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Snow in the Atlantic regions

The western regions of France are subject to an oceanic climate that is fairly unfavourable to snowfall. Thus, the number of snow days per year is less than 10 from Brittany to the Toulouse region. On the direct edge of the Atlantic coast, the number of days falls below 5. The Atlantic islands have an average of only 2 to 3 days with snow per year.

Rennes Opera in the snow © Auregann - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Rennes Opera in the snow © Auregann – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Snow in northern France

The regions between the Centre-Val-de-Loire region and the Hauts-de-France (including the English Channel and the North Sea coasts) are often more influenced by cold air and have an average of 10 to 15 days of snow per year. These snowfalls often occur as showers during active streaks on the edges of the English Channel.

Lille in the snow © Kaelkael - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Lille in the snow © Kaelkael – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Snow in Paris

Snow is rather frequent in Paris but only rarely does it accumulate heavy snow on the ground.

Winter in France - Paris © French Moments
Winter in Paris © French Moments

Despite urban warming, which forms a heat pocket over the Paris region, heavy snowfalls have been repeated during the current decade. We remember in particular the episodes of December 2010, including the one on the 8th which immobilised travel in the Ile de France, of March 2013, February 2018 and February 2021.

But the few centimetres of snow are nothing compared to the 40 cm measured in early March 1946. This was unheard of since measurements began in 1872. It would be the highest snowfall observed since the 60 cm of 1709.

Winter in France - Eiffel Tower © French Moments
Winter Wonderland in Paris (avenue de Breteuil) © French Moments

Snow in central France

The areas between the north of Limousin and Picardy have an average of 15 to 20 days of snow per year. Located in the centre of the country, they are halfway between the oceanic influence in the west and the continental influence in the east. The Saône valley in Burgundy has a similar climate.

Amiens in Winter © Hugues80 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Amiens in Winter © Hugues80 – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Snow in Champagne, Burgundy and Massif Central

The regions between the Champagne region and the Massif Central through Burgundy have an average of 20 to 25 days of snow per year. The continental influence is more noticeable in these areas, which are often influenced by the cold air descending from Central Europe.

Nolay in Burgundy © Mafran21 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Nolay in Burgundy © Mafran21 – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Snow in the easternmost regions of France

Unsurprisingly, snowfall is most frequent in the easternmost regions and particularly in the following regions: Lorraine, Franche-Comté, Alsace and the Ardennes. These areas record an average of 25 to 30 days of snow per year, occasionally 35 in exposed areas (plateaux etc…).

Nancy in the snow © French Moments
Nancy, Place Stanislas © French moments

Obviously, if you are a snow lover and if you wish to observe snow more frequently, it is in our massifs of the Vosges, the Jura, the Alps, the Massif Central or the Pyrenees that you should go.

Snow in France - region of Annecy © French Moments
Snow in France – region of Annecy © French Moments

The city with the most snow in France in winter

According to the weather statistics :

  • Marseille and Colmar enjoy good sunshine all year round.
  • Biarritz is one of the rainiest cities in France.
  • Mouthe, a small village in the Jura, is the coldest village in the country.
Mouthe in Winter © Pmau - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Mouthe in Winter © Pmau – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

In France, one city stands out for the amount of snow that falls in winter. Contrary to what you might think, the town is not located in the mountains!

And the winner is… Saint-Étienne!

Wrapped in a thick white blanket every year, Saint-Étienne is on average the snowiest city in France. It thus overtakes Grenoble, even though it is associated with snow and winter sports due to its surrounding mountains.

Snow in France - Saint-Etienne © EddieJav - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Saint-Etienne in the snow © EddieJav – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Located along the Furan valley, Saint-Etienne is bordered by six main hills: Mont d’Or and Montaud to the west, Mont Dormand (Vivaraize), Villeboeuf Le Haut, Montferré and Crêt-de-Roc to the east, rising from 566 to 671 m in altitude.

Why this French record?

Its high snowfall (82 cm of snow per winter) is due to its altitude and its exposure to the cold and wet north-west winds. In 2005, Saint-Étienne received more than 120 cm of snow.

Saint-Etienne in the snow © Antoine Lamielle - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Saint-Etienne in the snow © Antoine Lamielle – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Snow in France - Saint-Etienne © Antoine Lamielle - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Saint-Etienne in the snow © Antoine Lamielle – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Other French towns where it snows a lot!

Two other French cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants also receive a lot of snow and follow Saint Etienne:

  • Grenoble in the Alps with 42 cm of snow on average
  • Strasbourg in Alsace with 35 cm

More photos of a snowy winter in France

Here’s a selection of inspiring photos showing snow in France to make you dream…

Winter in Paris © French Moments
Paris: a view from Montmartre © French Moments
Winter in Paris © French Moments
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Paris © French Moments
Winter in Paris © French Moments
Winter in Paris (Square Rapp) © French Moments
Place de la Carrière in Nancy © French Moments
Nancy: Place de la Carrière in the snow © French Moments
Christmas Tree on Place Stanislas, Nancy © French Moments
Christmas Tree on Place Stanislas, Nancy © French Moments
Nancy in the snow © French Moments
Amphitrite Fountain © French moments
Nancy in the snow © French Moments
Place de la Carrière in the snow © French Moments
Ferrette under the snow 2 © French Moments
The castle of Ferrette, Alsace © French Moments
Snow Chapel Hirtzbach Alsace © French Moments
The St. Affre Chapel in Hirtzbach, Alsace © French Moments
A French Winter Wonderland: Village of Hirtzbach © French Moments
A French Winter Wonderland- the Village of Hirtzbach © French Moments
Ferrette in Winter © French Moments
Ferrette in Winter © French Moments
Winter in Alsace - Hirsingue © French Moments
Hirsingue, Alsace © French Moments
Winter in France (region of Annecy, French Alps) © French Moments
Winter in France (region of Annecy, French Alps) © French Moments
Winter in France (region of Annecy, French Alps) © French Moments
Winter in France (region of Annecy, French Alps) © French Moments
The castle of Menthon © French Moments
The castle of Menthon © French Moments
Bluffy © French Moments
The village of Bluffy in the snow (Haute-Savoie) © French Moments
Snow in France: Thorens-Glières in the snow © French Moments
The village of Thorens-Glières near Annecy © French Moments
La Plagne Ski lifts © French Moments
Winter in La Plagne © French Moments
Annecy at Christmas © French Moments
The old town of Annecy © French Moments

Find out more about winter in France

Pins for Pinterest

Nancy in the snow © French Moments Menthon Castle in Winter © French Moments

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About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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