Does it snow in France? During winter, not all regions in France experience high degrees of snow. France’s highest peak is Mont Blanc, 4,810 metres (15,780 ft). The “White Mount” is covered with snow and ice all year, 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.
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 climate variations in France’s different regions make the frequency of snowfall vary significantly from one region to another.
Snow in the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean coast is the area in France where snow is 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 snow days yearly. Nevertheless, although these regions are rarely affected by snow in France when it happens, they have essential episodes (this is due to a dynamic and frigid eastern flow coming down from the Alps).
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 ten 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 of snow per year.
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 yearly. These snowfalls often occur as showers during active streaks on the edges of the English Channel.
Snow in Paris
My readers regularly ask me: “When does it snow in Paris?”
Snowfall in the City of Lights is a rare and delightful occurrence that usually graces us from December to February. While Paris is known for its romantic ambience year-round, snow adds magic to the scene. However, there’s a reason why snow in Paris is a special treat – it’s not an everyday sight. The city’s mild climate, influenced by its location and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, means that genuinely snowy days are few and far between.
When that precious snow does fall, it’s like a scene from a fairy tale. The iconic landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre’s cobbled streets, turn into a charming winter wonderland. But here’s the thing – the snow rarely stays for long. The hustle and bustle of Paris and the city’s relatively warm temperatures mean that the snow often melts away within a day or two. It’s as if the city wants to enjoy the snowy beauty briefly before returning to its usual rhythm.
So, if you’re lucky enough to catch a snowflake or two in Paris, cherish the moment. The brief snowfall brings a touch of enchantment to the city’s already magical ambience, making it a memory to treasure.
Does it snow in Paris in December?
At the risk of repeating myself, snow in Paris during December is a rare and unique occurrence. While December marks the beginning of winter, the city’s mild climate, influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the urban heat island effect, makes consistent snowfall uncommon.
Over the past few decades, white Christmases in Paris have been infrequent, with measurable snowfall happening only a handful of times. The festive dream of a white Christmas often meets the reality of a winter landscape more commonly characterised by chilly temperatures and the twinkling lights of holiday decorations.
So, while it’s not impossible to witness snow in Paris during December, it’s a unique event that adds an extra touch of magic to the holiday season.
Latest snowfall in Paris
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.
Snow in Central France
The areas between the north of Limousin and Picardy have an average of 15 to 20 snow days yearly. Located in the country’s centre, 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.
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, often influenced by the cold air descending from Central Europe.
Snow in the easternmost regions of France
Unsurprisingly, snowfall is most frequent in the easternmost regions, particularly in the following parts: 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…).
Obviously, if you are a snow lover and wish to observe snow more frequently, you should go in our massifs of the Vosges, the Jura, the Alps, the Massif Central or the Pyrenees.
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.
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 in the mountains!
And the winner is… Saint-Étienne!
Wrapped in a thick white blanket yearly, 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.
Located along the Furan valley, Saint-Etienne is bordered by six prominent 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 exposure to the cold and wet northwest winds. In 2005, Saint-Étienne received more than 120 cm of snow.
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…
Find out more about winter in France
- Winter in France: all you need to know!
- A photographic journey to a French Winter Wonderland
- Winter in a village in the French Alps on our French blog Mon Grand-Est
- Our discovery of the ski resort La Plagne in winter on our French blog Mon Grand-Est
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