The nights may be getting longer all over Europe but the festivities in France are just waking up and here is proof that you don’t need to head to the snowy mountains for a great winter atmosphere. There are many adventures to be had over the winter season in France and all without having to tackle steep, icy roads.
From the food festivals in the South to Christmas markets in the North, all over France there is something going on with a great atmosphere to soak up during a winter motorhome trip.
This is a great time of the year to see all the wonderful autumn and winter ingredients that are grown in France and what better way to start than by visiting the weekly truffle markets in places like Carpentras in the Var? Don’t worry, it won’t break the bank to buy some as these markets offer the keenest truffle prices of the year. The Carpentras market runs from November to early March.
Lyon, at the beginning of December is home to the “Fete des Lumieres” (festival of lights) right in the capital. A great abundance of light colours the main buildings and there magnificent light sculptures surround the streets. The festival runs from 5th to the 8th of December. (Update for 2016: the festival is 8 to 10 December)
If you feel like a burst of winter sunshine, head further south and visit the Riviera town of Menton. Here you can celebrate “Le Fete du Citron” (The Lemon Festival ) for two weeks in February and feast your eyes upon six-metre high carnival floats, all made out of citrus fruits in homage to the famed export of the area. A lemon festival in Provence, could anything conjure up a sunnier image to banish the winter blues? (Update for 2016: the festival runs from 11 February to 1 March.)
Heading North why not take your motorhome up to Strasbourg and visit the oldest and largest Christmas market in France. The market runs from the 29th November to the 24th December and it literally takes over the city. Park up in one of the many campsites or free places for motorhomes (that stay open all year round) and head into town to enjoy the fairy-tale buildings and gingerbread bakeries. (Update for 2016: market is from 25 November to 24 December.)
Once the Christmas and New Year’s festivities have passed, enjoy the French regional winter sales. These are government controlled sales (!) and guaranteed to offer fantastic bargains in every shop in France. These sales have the same feel as Boxing Day sales (UK) or Black Friday sales (USA) but better because they last from mid-January right up until mid-February so you can take your time.
Moving into February with a romantic feeling in the air, why not plan a motorhome adventure to the village of Roquemaure in the department of Gard, specifically the weekend closest to the 14th. The village celebrates The “Jour de Saint-Valentin” which should not be ignored because the village church contains the relics of the martyred patron saint of lovers, which are carried in a procession called the “Festou di Poutoun” (festival of the kiss).
There truly is a large array of festivals and places to see in a winter season in France and all this seasonal good cheer becomes even more cheerful when you look at the winter season prices for motorhome hire (the lowest of the year).
Be spontaneous, book a winter break in France now so you can have something to look forward to as the evenings draw in.
Fete des Lumieres: http://www.fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr/en
Strasboug Christmas Festival : http://www.noel.strasbourg.eu/en