There may be a lack of sunshine in some parts of France at the moment, however, thereâ€™s no shortage of things to see and do while on a visit between now and March.
Please note that while weâ€™ve made every effort to ensure that the information below is correct, sometimes schedules may change, so do be sure to check the relevant websites before you go.
Splash some cash
From now until February 7th, les soldes dâ€™hiver (winter sales) are a great way to find a load of bargains. Across the country, stores large and small have reduced their prices, sometimes by as much as 75%. For the best deals though, try to hit the shops during the last few days of the sales, when store owners drop their prices even more.
Horses for courses
If horses are more your thing, Cheval Passion – from January 21st-25th – takes place in Avignon, where you can watch some of the best horsemanship take place in show-jumping, dressage, and carriage-driving events, as well as take in a game of polo or two. www.cheval-passion.com
Join AstÃ©rix & ObÃ©lix, Tintin, Lucky Luke, The Smurfs, and more at the Festival International de la Bande DessinÃ©e in AngoulÃªme (Poitou-Charentes) between January 29th and February 1st. This festival of comics, which draws huge crowds from all over the world, features competitions, the chance to meet with professional comic book artists and authors, and of course, the opportunity to discover and buy new reading material. www.bdangouleme.com
Get on your bike
Between January 30th and February 1st, the beaches at le Touquet (Pas de Calais) is host to an action-packed weekend of fast-paced quad bike racing. Thousands of bikes spend the weekend racing on the beaches, cheered on by in excess of 150,000 people. www.enduropaledutouquet.fr
Snow much fun
With more than 3000 participants, the epic cross country ski race at Franche-ComtÃ© Ski takes place on February 8th and 9th. Amateurs and professionals alike participate in the 76km race from Lamoura to Mourthe in the Jura Mountains. www.transorganisation.com
Gong Hey Fat Choy
If your own New Year celebrations werenâ€™t enough for you, then why not join in with Parisâ€™ Chinese New Year party? On February 15th, celebration parades to mark the year of the goat go through Quartier Chinois, Place dâ€™Italie, and Porte de Choisy â€“ a spectacle not to be missed.
Also during mid-February (13th-17th), is the Mardi Gras Carnival, which has been celebrated in Granville, Normandy since 1872, when fishermen who were about to put out to sea on long and arduous fishing expeditions to Newfoundland, would celebrate the night before the start of Lent, with a huge feast. These days, the carnival has become the largest such celebration in Normandy, and is full of street entertainers and parades, confetti fights, feasting, and of course, fancy dress costumes. www.ville-granville.fr
Nice-ly does it
For all its lavishness, Granville is not the only place to enjoy the carnival atmosphere; why not head down to the Riviera, to Nice, between February 13th and March 1st for their world-famous celebration? Along with those of Rio and Venice, Niceâ€™s carnival is one of the largest in the world, and is famed for its giants, floral parades and flower battles (where bystanders are showered with blooms thrown from the floats), processions, fireworks, lightshows, and live concerts. This yearâ€™s theme is the King of Music. www.nicecarnaval.com
And thereâ€™s more!
Dunkirk in Pas de Calais hosts its own Carnaval de Dunkerque between February 15th-17th. For three days, the streets are filled with parades, free entertainment, and good-natured mayhem. www.villedunkerque.fr
When life hands you lemonsâ€¦
The town of Menton, in the Provence-Alpes-CÃ´te dâ€™Azur region is host to the amazing Lemon Festival between February 14th and March 4th. Not only lemons but oranges as well are used to create enormous sculptures, such as Viking villages, dinosaurs, Indian palaces, and railway stations – complete with trainsâ€¦ made from citrus fruits of course! www.fete-du-citron.com
Why not take a gander?
Now in its seventh year, Sarlatâ€™s Festâ€™Oie (goose festival), which takes place between February 16th-17th, celebrates the emblem of the city with a festival of goose dishes, entertainment, and lots of loud honking as 200 geese are paraded through the streets of the medieval city. www.sarlat-tourisme.com
The sweet smell ofâ€¦
If you prefer something a little more fragrant, then the Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu-la-Napoule could be right up your street. Between February 15th and 24th, the Alpes Maritimes commune honors the blooming of millions of â€˜yellow sunsâ€™, which line the hillsides and lanes of the surrounding countryside. With parades, singing, and dancing, the Mimosa Festival heralds the coming of spring. www.ot-mandelieu.fr
Rally good fun
Returning to le Touquet, this time for the le Touquet Car Rally between March 13th-14th, over 150 drivers will descend upon the coastal town for a two-day motoring adventure through the surrounding countryside. www.letouquet.com
What will you be doing in France this spring?0