Why visit Paris in March?
Paris in March throws off its winter cloak with the expectation of the coming spring. Café tables begin to reappear beneath sidewalk awnings in ever greater numbers, strolls along the banks of the River Seine are once again an attractive proposition and the sun makes a concerted effort to brighten skies for at least half the month.
The result is a renewed bounce in the step of many Parisians, brought on by a combination of improving weather, plants bursting into bloom and a panoply of one-off events. If you like the sound of all this plus low season prices and Paris without the crowds, March could be the month for you.
Here’s just some of what you can expect.
Food to die for
There are few better times of year than Paris in March for anyone with an interest in food and drink. Known as the gastronomic capital of the world, and boasting the second-highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants of any city on Earth, additional attractions in March include National Cheese Day and Macaron Day.
Yes, these two staples of French culinary culture each have their own special day of celebration. The country’s 1600 or so cheeses are celebrated on March 27. With the weather hopefully on your side it makes for a great excuse to explore the array of food markets dotting the French capital.
The historic Marché des Enfants Rouge takes some beating, although the stalls of Rue Montorgueil are arguably even better for cheese, bread and chocolate lovers.
Just a week before on March 20 it’s Macaron Day, which all but demands a visit to any of the high-end patisseries lining the boulevards of the central arrondissements (districts). Not only do you get to taste a range of classic and modern flavors, but a portion of the money you spend goes to the year’s chosen charity.
Parks and gardens
If you prefer the smell of freshly mown grass to the yeasty scent of a microbrewery tasting room there’s plenty of things to do in Paris in March for you too.
Green spaces aren’t hard to come by within the Paris city limits, which detour around the Bois de Boulogne to the west and Bois de Vincennes to the east. Both provide expansive spaces to take in the new growth of spring.
Further out still lies the Palace of Versailles and its gardens. The main residence of the kings of France until the French Revolution, its gardens remain renowned for their spurting fountains and formal planting regimes. Meanwhile, the palace’s interiors, including the likes of the Hall of Mirrors, have become bywords for elegance, decadence and sublime style.
Closer to the center of the city, the flower beds of the Champ de Mars will be bursting with color from early spring bulbs. Paris’s cherry and magnolia trees are another much-loved part of late March and early April.
To capture them at their very best, head to the viewing platforms of the Eiffel Tower. If you can, avoid getting caught up in The Vertical, a race that sees competitors tackle the tower’s 1665 steps to reach the finish line.
Rainy day activities that won’t disappoint
Although the weather in March is steadily improving, the month still sees its fair share of rain and cloud. Showers aren’t by any means unheard of, so keep your umbrella close at hand or slip into any of the French capital’s epic museums.
The Pompidou Center’s Museum of Modern Art contains the second-largest collection of modern and contemporary works in the world – enough to keep you enthralled for an entire afternoon if you wish it to.
Alternatively, the Musée du Quai Branly has an extraordinary collection of cultural artefacts from the four corners of the globe, including a standing stone from Easter Island and carvings from South America, Africa and Asia.
To discover some of the greats of French history, you only need to go as far as the Panthéon. This grand would-be church is the final resting place of 80 people without whom the world would be a very different place. Some of the best-known names outside of France are Voltaire, Marie Curie and Josephine Baker – the first black woman to receive what is perceived to be one of France’s highest honors.
Special events in March
More than just a place to buy the latest bestsellers, the second half of March welcomes in the Paris Book Fair (Livre Paris). It’s an event which brings together readers, authors and publishers. Usually taking place in the Grand Palais Éphémère, at the opposite end of the Champ de Mars to the Eiffel Tower, there’s a smorgasbord of live workshops and talks to look forward to.
If it’s the silver screen rather than the written word that’s your first love, try and coincide your visit to Paris in March with the timing of the Cinéma du réel documentary film festival.
Holding screenings at the Public Information Library at the Pompidou Center alongside several partner movie theaters, each edition of the festival brings around 200 notable movies of the genre to the attention of Parisian audiences.
Nearby streets are taken over by the Carnaval des femmes – the ‘Women’s or Washerwomen’s Festival’. Expect a baffling array of costumes, from ordinary women dressed as the queens of old to men in full drag.
Save on attraction admission in Paris in March
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At the same time, you’ll have an easier time budgeting for your trip, and you’ll have no currency conversion or international credit card fees to worry about. A smart choice all around however many times you’ve been to Paris in the past, it’s one of the best ways to keep costs down. Instagram and Facebook are great ways to keep up to the minute with all things Go City!