All there is to know about Spring in France


Blooming apple trees, new green leaves covering the trees, spring flowers in full bloom in the gardens, fields and forests… this explosion of new life tells us that spring is in the air. Spring in France is my favourite season to discover the country, from Paris to the French Alps, and from Alsace to the French Riviera.


About Spring in France

Spring is known as ‘printemps’ in French, from old French ‘prins’ (first) and ’temps’ (time as in weather).

Springtime heralds coming back to life after the long cold months of winter. Buds on the trees finally open up after having slept all winter. Leaves burst out of the buds in fresh green colour when the sun gets brighter and warmer. In spring, the trees’ bare branches change into leafy shade towards summer.

Annecy © French Moments

Spring in Annecy © French Moments

This is the season full of bird song as birds often sing all day long in the forests or in the gardens while nesting. The sparrows are back in the north of France as are the white storks in Alsace. As plants and trees come back to life, small and colourful butterflies start appearing.

Dandelions begin to invade the garden lawns and the fields. May is one of the best months to see spring wildflowers such as cowslips, wood violets and lily of the valley in bloom. From late winter, flowering and fruit trees produce their flamboyant blooms on bare branches: magnolias, apple trees, cherry trees and almond trees. In many French gardens, the bright yellow flowers of the Forsythia shrub are amongst the first to be in full bloom in March.

Cows in the Tarentaise © French Moments

Cows grazing near Aime © French Moments

In spring, some plants bear vegetables and fruit that will be picked in June: asparagus, artichokes, carrots, radish, french beans, potatoes, lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, cucumbers, courgettes, rhubarb. strawberries, raspberries and cherries.

Calendar of Spring in France

Easter © French Moments

Easter bell and bunny © French Moments

After the long months of winter, spring is synonymous with rebirth and resurrection.

Officially the season of spring starts on 21 March and ends on 20 June. However, for meteorologists and many other people, spring starts on 1 March and ends on 31 May.

With spring in France comes the festivities of Easter (Pâques in French) as well as many other public holidays and festivities such as May Day, the Ascension, Pentecost and the festival of Cannes…

Spring in France Calendar

Popular events in France during springtime

  • March – Paris Book Fair (Salon du livre de Paris), an event attracting more than 180,000 visitors at the Parc des Expositions in Porte de Versailles.
  • April – Nancy Travelling Funfair (Foire attractive de Nancy). France’s second-largest funfair.
  • April – Bourges Music Festival (Printemps de Bourges).
  • April – Paris-Roubaix cycle race (Course cycliste Paris-Roubaix). A one-day professional bicycle road race in Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
  • April and May – Paris Travelling Funfair (Foire du Trône). France’s largest funfair in the Vincennes Wood, Paris.
  • Late April or early May – Transhumance Festival of Saint-Remy-de-Provence (Fête de la Transhumance de Saint-Remy-de-Provence).
  • Saturday around 18 May – The Long Night of Museums. The European cultural event is known as Nuit Blanche in Paris, and La Nuit des Musées in France.
  • Mid-May – Cannes International Film Festival (Festival International du Film de Cannes).
  • May – Monaco Grand Prix (Grand Prix de Monaco). A Formula One motor race held each year on the Circuit de Monaco.
  • Late May-Early June – The French Open (Tournoi de Roland Garros) in Paris.
  • June – Annecy International Animation Film Festival (Festival International du Film d’Animation d’Annecy).
  • 6th June – Commemoration ceremonies of the D-Day landings in Normandy.
Spring in France

Spring in France: at the Eiffel Tower © French Moments

The weather during Spring in France

From April, the weather slowly but surely turns milder. With lots of unpredictable spring showers and clearing skies, spring is one of the most beautiful seasons to visit France when the throngs of tourists are not yet invading the country’s most famous sites. Cold days can unexpectedly make a harsh comeback with snow and frost until May in the plains.

Groisy Haute-Savoie © French Moments

Spring in Annecy Mountains © French Moments

On the other hand, high temperatures can suddenly occur, announcing summer. Either way, the nights stay quite chilly for a little while. Variations in the spring climate in France greatly depend on regional areas: Nice and the French Riviera enjoy mild and beautiful spring days whereas temperatures in Alsace range from 5 to 18 degrees. Snow is still present in the mountainous parts of the country, particularly in the Alps and the Pyrenees.

The Saints de Glace period

Picnic one day, snow next… We call these cold days in May “Saints de Glace” (Ice Saints). In Europe, the period from the 12t May to the 15th of May is often believed to bring a brief period of cold weather, including the last nightly frosts of the spring. This is what we experienced in our alpine village on 14 May 2018:

"Saints de Glace" 14 May 2018 in the village of Granier © French Moments

“Saints de Glace” 14 May 2018 in the village of Granier © French Moments

Visiting France in Spring

Spring is a wonderful season to visit France when wildflowers grow in the fields and village life comes back to a new life. The tourist season restarts in May with extended hours at museums, gardens and sites of interest. Most hotels and flights to France are affordable until 1 July.

Spring sunny day in Montmartre © French Moments

Spring sunny day in Montmartre © French Moments

The season is perfect for discovering Paris (see Spring at the Eiffel Tower) and the many castles, palaces and châteaux around the capital: Versailles, Chantilly, Vaux-le-Vicomte and their respective gardens. In Normandy, the apple trees are in full bloom and Monet’s Garden in Giverny is well worth a visit.

The Loire Valley and its numerous royal residences and gardens are also a highlight in spring as is the south of France. In Provence and Languedoc, the mild weather allows for nice excursions in the countryside or along the coast without the risk of bush fires. The main tourist resorts of the French Riviera (Nice, Monaco, Menton and Saint-Tropez) are still off-peak and not as busy as in summer except during a special event.

You may find still a lot of snow in the mountains such as in the Pyrenees and the Alps. Although Spring should be in full swing in the valleys, tracks in ‘haute montagne’ and high pastures might still be impassable.

Bellentre, Tarentaise Valley © French Moments

In the vicinity of Bellentre, Middle Tarentaise © French Moments

Spring flowers and flowering trees

St. Martin Basilica, Aime © French Moments

St. Martin Basilica, Aime © French Moments

From the first weeks of March to the warmer month of May, spring flowers come into bloom. There’s a kind of magic when the first burst of colourful flowers begin to be spotted in gardens, fields and forests in France.

Find out more about Spring flowers and flowering trees.

  • Our pages on SPRING IN FRANCE

  • Spring in France: English-French Vocabulary

    Parc de la Pépinière © French Moments

    The Custine gate in the rose garden at the Parc de la Pépinière © French Moments

    (f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

    • apple tree = pommier (m)
    • to blossom = fleurir (v)
    • butterfly = papillon (m)
    • cherry tree = cerisier (m)
    • Easter = Pâques (f)
    • field = champ (m)
    • flower = fleur (f)
    • flowering tree = arbre en fleur (m)
    • forest = forêt (f)
    • fruit = fruit (m)
    • garden = jardin (m)
    • leaf = feuille (f)
    • meadow = prairie (m), pré (f)
    • plant = plante (f)
    • rain = pluie (f)
    • season = saison (f)
    • shrub = arbuste (m)
    • sparrow = hirondelle (f)
    • spring = printemps (m)
    • stork = cigogne (f)
    • summer = été (m)
    • sun = soleil (m)
    • tree = arbre (m)
    • vegetable = légume (m)
    • winter = hiver (m)
    • wood = bois (m)

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    About 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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