Written by Beth Nicholson,
6th March 2023

Spring returning to France is a truly joyous time. It heralds the start of one of the best periods of the year ahead. After winters, during which many hide away and activity around villages is noticeably diminished, it is a time of great hope. And if you already live in France, you may have noticed some, if not all of these tell-tale signs.

Spring meadows in front of Mont Blanc

The arrival of flowers

Winters can feel slightly depressing, seeing nothing but a plethora of woody sticks outside after becoming accustomed to following the ever changing bursts of colour in gardens during summer. Spring returning to France means that beautiful things start to fight through. Starting with the yellows – primroses, daffodils then, just to buck the trend beautiful bluebells. From the sight of the first flowers arrival, you are sure to be entertained by the constant ever changing kaleidoscope of colour that arrives day after day.

Even the least nurturing of gardeners cannot fail to be impressed by the speed at which it seems there is something new, seemingly arriving overnight. There is nothing more designed to lift the spirit than the arrival of wonderful pops of colour all around.

A crane in flight

The welcome return of the cranes

Perhaps one of the first signs of spring returning to France is the arrival of the cranes. A truly magnificent sight to behold. Not that they are stopping, but simply passing through. If you are lucky enough to relocate anywhere in France beneath their flightpath, you cannot fail to spot them. Twice a year, gloriously passing over the country. In large numbers, from groups of 40 -250 in their majestic V-shaped formation.

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Their autumn migration starts any time from October to December. Once seen passing over, cold weather is certainly on its way. Spring migration can start as early as January. Which begs the question, why they would bother at all. But more normally during February and March. Sometimes, the temperatures upon their return makes it hard to believe that spring really is on its way. But the earlier they return, the earlier Spring is without doubt expected. For the cynical about the accuracy of this event, it will only take a few years to buy in to the unbridled feeling of joy at the sight of them returning.

Shutters are opened in Springtime

Shutters re-opening

Anyone who lives in France knows that spring is here when the shutters are opened. There is a very precise science behind shutter use. You close them to keep heat in and the cold out over winter. The reverse being true during the height of summer. Make no mistake, the French take this very seriously and so they should. Correct shutter use can save you a fortune on energy bills over the winter. As well as certainly saving you from severe discomfort when indoors during the summer.

During winter, particularly in small rural communes, shutters may be shut for what feels like months. You may even start to worry about people, having seemingly not seen them for a whole season. Almost as if villages have been completely deserted. But spring returning to France is the ideal time to not only open those shutters, but also the windows to air the house. While the heat is still at comfortable levels.

Carpenter bees

With the arrival of flowers, come the insects, some more welcome than others. However the first arrivals signaling Spring returning to France are the magnificent carpenter bees. Whilst perhaps scary upon first sight due to their size and noise, these beautiful gentle creatures are not remotely interested in causing harm. Their fascinating colour, black upon first glance but closer up more a very deep dark violet and intricately designed wing structure makes them instantly recognisable.

Their role in life is springtime pollination, so when you see them, you know good times are ahead!

A gardener mows the grass in Spring

The sound of gardening activities

In rural communities, the gardening gear sparking up is a sure fire sign of Spring returning to France. Once one person has sparked up the tractor mower of strimmer for the first time, it won’t be long before everyone joins in. Alongside of course, the noise of colourful language when perhaps equipment doesn’t simply spring to life after a cold winter of hibernation in barns and garages.

Once started, particularly within rural communities, this will not stop until the last mow before winter. Apart from times of course, when this is forbidden (lunchtimes, evenings and Sunday afternoons). Planting of potagers begin in earnest and if you need human interaction after a long winter, simply head to the local garden centre. The chorus of tractor mowers, strimmers, chainsaws and rotavators fill the air as much as the birdsong. What a welcome sound it is! As well as the sight of people actually out and about in their gardens again.

Blue skies above a meadow in France

Blue skies and frosty mornings

Temperatures at this time of year despite signs of Spring returning to France can still be fairly bracing. But bright skies and frosty mornings slowly make way for warmer afternoons and a gradual increase in temperatures. Be sure to make the most of this time of year, as often later on during the height of summer the heat can be overwhelming. Now is the time to get outside and start those activities that you may not have the energy for during hotter temperatures.

A great time to start projects both inside and outside your property. If you are lucky enough to have visitors then get them involved as that much needed helping hand.

Happy hour, aperos in Provence, France

The sights and sounds of village life returning

Last but not least, one of the most welcome signs for many of Spring returning to France is the interaction with others. As days become longer, and people return to better spirits, the social calendar can quickly fill up. Spring in France heralds the welcome return of all of the great benefits of this country. Dining alfresco, aperos with friends in gardens and on terraces and outside living. In villages people once again start sitting outside their houses and simply chatting amongst themselves. It feels like everything truly starts moving again and life returns.

This is the time when village life truly reignites. Communal events kick off and it’s all about making the most of this time and spending it with friends and family. If you ever feel it getting too much, just remember those winter months when perhaps it was exactly what you missed. So, as the French love to say “Profitez!” Get out there, and make the most of this most beautiful time of the year. Making memories and most of all, enjoy spending quality time with others in your new community!

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