If "Paris in the Springtime" conjures up images of smothering crowds, consider visiting France in the off-season. Bargains abound, the lines are short and you can live like a local.
From November through March, there are many hot deals for tours, airfare and lodging in France. Even if a jaunt to Paris is normally out of reach, this is a time to visit on the cheap. Or this is also an ideal time to book a stay at some of France's finest and most luxurious hotels at a lower cost. As the hotels empty for winter, the savings are deep.
Why visit in the off-seasonThere are even certain advantages to visiting in the off-season. For one thing, many travelers mistakenly visit France in August, since it is summertime. The only problem is almost all of France is on vacation for the entire month, which means many shops and restaurants are closed.
Also, you can avoid the long lines and obnoxious crowds found in spring and summer. When you visit France in the off-season, you also feel more like a local and less like a tourist.
Sometimes, the weather is even bearable in the depths of winter. In Provence, for example, the average temperature for December is 14 degrees Celsius, or 57 degrees Farenheit.
One of the best reasons to visit in winter is to take advantage of the government-regulated sales. French stores can only hold sales twice a year, in January and again in the summer.
France's seasonsWinter in France offers unique delights that can't be found any other time of year as well. For instance, there are many Christmas markets in November and December filled with wonderful buys.
The downside to the off-seasonThere are, of course, some disadvantages. If there weren't, it wouldn't be so cheap. Many attractions close for the winter, as do many small inns and even hotels.
The weather can be unbearable, or could even result in flight delays. It is a good idea to investigate the climate and the opening hours before committing to a trip. Also, be sure you know how to pack for the season.
Although it might be chilly in France in the off-season, it is a rare opportunity to experience this country without busting your wallet or budget. And what could be more charming than browsing a Christmas market, or eating hearty French stews, or seeing the snow-capped Alps as you relax in the mild weather of the South of France.