French troops are in control of the airport in the northern Malian of Kidal, but bad weather has slowed down the deployment of reinforcements, France's Defence Minister has said.
The town is the last urban stronghold held by Islamist extremists.
Jean-Yves Le Drian told France-inter radio:
The weather conditions are such that the complement of the forces will take a bit more time to arrive, but that's part of the risks of the desert.
In any case, French forces are at Kidal and are in control of the airport.
Throughout ten months of Islamist rule, the people of Timbuktu risked their lives to preserve the artefacts of their ancient heritage.
Francois Hollande is due to visit Timbuktu during his visit to the West African country this weekend. He will be welcomed by many.
Downing Street have been explaining what offers the UK have made to the military effort in Mali.