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by Santorini Dave • Updated: December 16, 2018
When is the best time to go to France?
The best time to visit France is in the spring (April to June) or fall (September to November) when there are fewer tourists, lower prices, and moderate temperatures. The summer months can be hot, crowded, and expensive. The winter months are often grey, wet, and cold (though a great time to visit the museums of Paris).
France – When To Visit
- Best Time for Good Weather: May to October
- Best Time for Sightseeing: April to June, September to November
- Best Time for Honeymoon: May, June, September, October
- Best Time for Saving Money: March, April, and November
- Best Time for Foodies: April, May, and June
- Best Time for Paris: May, June, September, and October
- Best Time for Wine Country: March to May (most scenic); January and February (winemakers have the most time)
- Best Time for South France: June, early July, and September
- Best Time for the Atlantic Coast: June to August (but busy)
Best Time to Visit France
- Best Time for Sightseeing: If you’re hoping to avoid the biggest crowds and have a good chance of enjoying mild weather, the best time for sightseeing in France is usually in the shoulder season, May and September in most areas, other than Paris which is likely to be quite busy. It’s a year-round tourist destination, so you’re unlikely to find non-existent lines for any attraction, but the best time to go may be early March or late October, though you will probably have to bundle up.
- Best Time For Beaches: Those who want to enjoy swimming at the beaches in the South of France should be aware that sea temperatures are typically only warm enough in June through September, a time that also brings the biggest crowds. The sweet spot may be mid-September, which usually sees sunshine and warm temperatures, including warm water as well as fewer crowds. Pleasant strolls along the beach can usually be enjoyed from April through October.
- Best Time For Wine Tasting: The best time to enjoy wine tasting amid mild weather and fewer crowds tends to be in May and June. While September and October will be busier, the weather is usually good and you’ll be here during harvest time.
- Best Time For Shopping: Many European countries, including France, host big winter and summer sales. Here, the best time for shopaholics to score bargains is from mid-January to mid-February, and again, from late June through early- to mid-August. As summer is the busy season, if you’re hoping to avoid crowds and enjoy discounts on accommodation to, hit the winter sales.
France Travel Seasons
- High Season (mid-June through August and mid-December through early January): Summer and the period around the holidays is generally the high season in France, like most European countries. This is the time when the weather is often ideal and you can enjoy long days of sunshine, but it’s also the most crowded time, when lines are likely to be long, the crowds thick and the prices at their highest of the year. The high season extends beyond the summer months in some places, particularly Paris, with accommodation rates generally higher between April and October. Book the Best Hotels in Paris and the Best Family Hotels in Paris months in advance.
- Shoulder Season (April through mid-June, September and October): Other than Paris, shoulder season is often the best time to visit France, with fewer crowds, typically mild weather and occasionally discounted hotel rates. In Paris, the closest to a shoulder season may be late February through March and mid-October through mid-November. While it’s likely to be chilly, the crowds won’t be as thick as they are during the high season.
- Low Season (November through March, except around the holidays): During the low season, bargains abound, the lines for all the attractions are much more reasonable, and you can get a better glimpse at how the locals really live. The weather can put a damper on things, however. If you’re heading north, be sure to pack warm clothing as it will be cold and even freezing at night. Of course, Paris with a dusting of snow is magical. In the south of France, you’ll need to be prepared for a mixed bag, with some warm and sunny days, and chilly nights.
France Weather by Month
For the purpose of this article, we’ve broken down the weather into the northeast region which includes Alsace, Paris and the surrounding area, the Atlantic coastal region and southern France.
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in January: Winter in this region is typically cold and grey, with snowfall frequent but not heavy. January is the coldest month here, with daytime temperatures ranging between 3°C and 6°C. If you visit now, you’ll need to bring winter clothing, including a warm coat, hat, and ideally, some good waterproof winter boots. When it’s not snowing, it’s likely to be raining, with 50mm of precipitation over 9 days, though you may enjoy a few sunny, dry days too. (Average Max Temperature: 6°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in January: January is the coldest and wettest month in Paris, with the average high temperature hovering at around 7°C, dipping to 3°C at night, although it can drop quite a bit below freezing and it may even snow. On average, however, snowfall occurs only on two days this month, most often in late January. When it happens it tends to melt quickly resulting in lots of slush. With around 18mm of precipitation over 14 days, rain is likely but it’s usually light. Expect lots of grey days with drizzle, and little sunshine with an average of only an hour each day. This is a time for your warm-weather clothing, so bring a winter coat, sweaters, gloves, a warm hat that covers your ears and ideally, a pair waterproof shoes. (Average Max Temperature: 7°C. Average Precipitation: 18mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in January: This region of France enjoys relatively mild weather year round, though January is its coldest month with mostly cool, wet and windy weather. The farther south you are on the coast, the warmer it’s likely to be, though daytime temperatures average around 6°C to 8°C. If you visit this area now, be prepared by bringing a warm, windproof, waterproof jacket and a hat. Precipitation is likely with 80mm over 12 days in January. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- South France Weather in January: Although it’s the depths of winter in South France, as it is throughout Europe, temperatures are fairly mild and you can expect few crowds in the cities and nearly empty beaches, though the sea will be far too cold for swimming at around 13°C. Average daytime temperatures range between 9°C and 13°C, and nights are cold with lows at 5°C. Rain can be somewhat of a concern with 70mm over 8 days, though most comes in short, sudden downpours, so bringing an umbrella is a good idea if you plan to visit in January, along with a mix of clothing that can be layered. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in February: There is a slight improvement in February, with daytime highs creeping up to 8°C, though low temperatures are still quite chilly at -2°C. This is a time marked by many grey days, with less than a 10% chance of sunshine on any given day this month on average. Precipitation decreases, however, to 30mm over 8 days. Still, you’ll need to be prepared for those dark cold days by packing as you would for last month, with plenty of warm winter clothing. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 30mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in February: February is also quite chilly, with the average high temperature this month only increasing by a degree to 8°C, and temperatures sometimes linger at frozen or even below. There may be sudden, erratic rain downpours, and with an average of 22mm of precipitation over 13 days, you’re likely to experience at least a shower or two. There’s a higher likelihood of snow this month as well, so it’s important to be prepared by packing not only your cold weather clothing, but an umbrella that can withstand those wet and windy gusts. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 22mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in February: Temperatures are increasing gradually now, ranging between 7°C and 9°C, while the rain lets up a bit too, with about 60mm over 10 days this month, and you can expect more sunshine too. Nights are still quite cold, just above freezing, so you’ll still need plenty of winter clothing, especially if you plan to go outdoors in the evening. (Average Max Temperature: 9°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
- South France Weather in February: Winter continues, though things begin to warm up gradually this month with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 13°C during the day, and lows at 6°C. Precipitation still averages at 70mm, but it now generally falls over only 6 days, so when it comes, it’s in heavy downpours. Pack as you would for January, bringing an umbrella and a mix of clothing that can be layered. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in March: The beginning of springtime marks a noticeable warming, with the mercury now climbing to a more pleasant 13°C, and as the month progresses, you’re likely to enjoy a few sunny days with temperatures closer to 15°C to 17°C With the low temperature just above freezing at 2°C, snow is still a possibility, though the precipitation average is just 40mm over 8 days this month and there’s a 15% chance of sunshine on any given day. Bring a mix of clothing now, including items for both mild and cold weather that can be layered. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 40mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in March: The weather is beginning to improve, with March ushering in springtime. The average high increases significantly to 12°C, and snow is unlikely other than perhaps a few flakes earlier in the month. Precipitation actually increases just a bit to 24mm over 14 days, so be sure to bring that wet weather gear, along with a warm coat, sweaters and waterproof shoes. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Precipitation: 24mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in March: March marks a turning point, with the weather noticeably warming, and daytime highs now reaching 12°C and even a bit higher, especially during the latter part of the month. You can expect more sunshine, with five hours a day, and a similar amount of rain and wind, so you’ll still need that warm coat, but you may want to bring a few items for warmer days too. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
- South France Weather in March: Things are starting to warm up noticeably now, with more sun and longer days too. Afternoon highs average 15°C and occasionally, particularly during the latter half of the month, it may rise close to 20°C, though it’s still not quite time for swimming at the beach as sea temperatures still hover around 13°C. March also brings rain, but the same type of precipitation that generally passes quickly in what’s known as a Mediterranean downpour. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in April: The heart of springtime in the Alsace region means things are really warming now, though the weather is a bit erratic, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 16°C. The saying “April showers” is especially true now, with increased precipitation at 50mm over 9 days this month and just a 13% chance of sunshine. When packing focus on items for cool, damp weather but bring a few items for those pleasant, mild days too. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in April: It’s starting to feel more like spring now, with daily highs generally ranging from 13°C to 17°C and nights not usually getting much colder than 7°C. In recent years the temperatures have occasionally reached as high as the mid-20s in April, so you may want to pack for changing weather by bringing a mix of both warm and cool weather clothing. Rain may still be a concern, with 25mm falling over 14 days this month. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 25mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in April: April marks the true beginning of spring, with many pleasant days though temperatures still average on the cool side, ranging from 11°C to 15°C, and windy days are likely too. Expect a mix of sunny and rainy days, with 60mm of precipitation over 11 days on average. Pack clothing that can be layered, with a mix of both items for warmer and cooler weather just in case. That windproof, waterproof rain jacket is still likely to be handy in April. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
- South France Weather in April: Officially in spring now, April can be a wonderful month to visit the south of France, which experiences more sunshine than many other European destinations now. It unlikely to be too warm, with temperatures generally ranging between 13°C to 17°C, but the sea temperatures are finally warming, now at 15°C , signaling that beach weather may soon be here. Low temperatures dip down to around 10°C, so plan to bring clothing that can be layered, including a good mix of short- and long-sleeve shirts as well as a jacket for evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in May: With the average high temperature climbing significantly to 22°C, things are noticeably warming now, however, during the first half of the month it can still get quite cold with lows not much above freezing, but the second half typically brings many warm days as well as the first afternoon thunderstorms. If you plan to visit this month, you’ll really need a good mix of clothing to be prepared, including a warm coat for chilly evenings as well as a portable umbrella. (Average Max Temperature: 22°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in May: May can be a wonderful month for visiting Paris, with summer just around the corner, the average high temperature is a pleasant 20°C, and there’s likely to be a number of sunny days when afternoons reach closer to the mid-20s. While it’s unlikely to get too wet, sudden thunderstorms are fairly common, so you may want to bring a portable umbrella. It’s also a good idea to pack a mix of cool and warm clothing that can be layered. (Average Max Temperature: 20°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in May: May brings more pleasant weather, with temperatures rising to 18°C in the afternoon and occasionally into the low 20s, and the wind dying down too. Just like April, you can expect a number of grey, rainy days in between warmer, sunny days, which means it’s important to bring a good mix of clothing for both. Nights will be cool with lows at 11°C so you’ll still need a jacket for evenings, as well as those damp days. (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- South France Weather in May: As temperatures rise, more and more tourists start to arrive, signaling the start of the busy season. During the day temperatures usually climb to 20°C and may reach a few degrees higher on an especially pleasant afternoon, though you can still expect some rain with an average of 50mm falling over 9 days in May, though it tends to pass quickly. Layers are still a good idea, with t-shirts along with some clothing for cooler days and evenings. While the sea is still too cool for swimming at 18°C, you may be able to enjoy relaxing on the beach with a good book. (Average Max Temperature: 20°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in June: While June ushers summer in, the month is still a bit of a mixed bag, with a number of warm, sunny days and the average high now 25°C, but lows are still rather chilly at just 12°C and rain is likely over 9 days this month. If you plan to visit now, you’ll still need a good mix of clothing that can be layered, including sweaters and short-sleeve shorts, as well as an umbrella and a jacket for evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in June: Other than the crowds, June is one of the best times of the year to be in Paris, with the weather mostly warm, dry and sunny. Afternoons average 23°C, though it can get up into the upper 20s, and occasionally an unusually cool day may sneak up on you too, in fact the lowest temperature recorded here in June was just above freezing. With that, you’ll still need to pack of mix of clothing, but focus more on lightweight items for those summery days, and do bring a jacket for evenings as the low averages 14°C. A portable umbrella is still a good idea for those sudden thunderstorms. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 24mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in June: While June ushers summer in, it’s still a relatively mild month with pleasant temperatures ranging between 18°C and 21°C on average. It brings a lot more sunshine too, averaging eight hours each day, and significantly less rain, with 40mm falling over seven days in June. Now is the time to focus on more lightweight clothing, though you’ll still need a jacket for cool nights with lows at 14°C. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Precipitation: 40mm.)
- South France Weather in June: With the long, sunny days of summer here, visitors are steadily arriving to enjoy the beautiful shores of South France. Afternoon highs are now climbing close to the mid-20s, with the light coastal breeze helping to keep things from getting too warm. Now you’ll need mostly lightweight, summery clothing, though you may want a sweater or light jacket with lows around 17°C. Be sure to bring your swimsuit too; while sea temperatures have risen to 22°C, it may be too cool for extended swimming, but you can enjoy a refreshing dip as well as soaking up the sun on the sand. (Average Max Temperature: 23°C. Average Precipitation: 40mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in July: July is the warmest month of the year in this region, with daytime temperatures ranging from 20°C to 27°C and lows averaging 13°C. You’re unlikely to need much in the way of clothing to keep you warm, though you’ll still want a jacket or sweater for going outdoors in the evening. There is still a chance of rain with 60mm over 8 days, though it usually comes in the form of short-lived afternoon thunderstorms. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in July: July is one of the warmest months of the year in Paris with temperatures climbing to 25°C and sometimes higher in the afternoons, while nights will be pleasantly cool with lows at 16°C. On the downside, sudden erratic thunderstorms and heavy showers can occur, though they’re often short-lived, which means an umbrella will still be helpful. Pack as you would for last month, with a mix of mostly warm weather clothing along with a jacket for evenings and a couple of items for cooler days just in case. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 22mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in July: July is the peak of summer, and along with August, it’s the hottest month of the year. This is a time you’re likely to see both a lot of tourists and a lot of sun. Daytime temperatures range between 20°C and 24°C, but on some days the mercury may climb into the upper 20s. Precipitation decreases even more, to 30mm over 8 days, so it’s unlikely to interrupt your outdoor activities. Bring clothing for warm weather and some sun protection, as well as a sweater for cooler evenings with lows now dipping to 16°C. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Precipitation: 30mm.)
- South France Weather in July: July marks a big change, with summer officially here, and those temperatures have increased significantly. This month, along with August, are the hottest months to visit, with afternoon highs now in the upper 20s and occasionally reaching the low 30s. Rain isn’t a concern either with just 10mm of precipitation of four days. Now you’ll probably want to spend quite a bit of time on the beach with sea temperatures at 23°C ideal for escaping the heat. With lows a relatively warm 20°C, even in the evenings you’re unlikely to need a jacket. Now is the time to bring all of that summer wear, and you may want to bring sun protection too, including sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Precipitation: 10mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in August: While it’s still the peak of summer, temperatures begin to gradually cool this month, with the first half still quite warm, becoming more fall-like as August progresses. Daytime temperatures range between 19°C and 25°C, while the average low remains at 13°C. There is a slightly better chance for sunshine this month, and a bit less precipitation with 50mm over 8 days. Pack as you would for July, with mostly warm weather clothing and a sweater or jacket for cooler evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 19°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in August: August continues those warm days and summer sunshine with little change in temperature and nearly the same amount of precipitation too, with 21mm falling over 10 days this month. Expect warm, muggy conditions and those occasional thunderstorms in between the sun. Pack as you would for last month, with a mix of mostly warm and some cooler weather clothing along with a portable umbrella. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 21mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in August: There is little change between July and August in this region, with high and low temperatures the same, and an average of 30mm falling over 8 days. This is the busiest time in Atlantic France, as well as its other regions, while you can expect plenty of sunshine, but be prepared for crowds as well. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Precipitation: 30mm.)
- South France Weather in August: August is generally a repeat of July, with only a slight increase in the chances for rain with 20mm of four days this month. Sea temperatures warm a degree to 24°C, making beach time a priority. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Precipitation: 20mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in September: Fall is now here, and it will feel like it, especially during the latter half of the month, with the average temperature now just 16°C, though on pleasant afternoons it can be as warm as 21°C. There is a bit less sunshine and more grey, overcast days, though rainfall still averages 50mm over 8 days in September. This is a good time for sweaters, and you may need a warm coat too with nighttime temperatures now dropping down to 10°C. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in September: This is a busy month in Paris, and while it typically starts out warm with temperatures that can reach as high as 25°C, the average high drops four degrees to 21°C, and the later in September you’re here, the cooler it’s likely to be. Precipitation decreases significantly, however, with just 16mm over 11 days, making it a rather pleasant time to be in Paris. Chances are, you’ll still need some clothing for warm weather, but now is the time to really think about layering so that you’re prepared for changing temperatures. With lows at 13°C, be sure to bring a jacket for going outdoors in the evening. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Precipitation: 16mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in September: While temperatures are starting to fall, September sees many lovely, warm sunny days – especially during the first half of the month, which isn’t much different than August. Daytime temperatures range between 19°C and 23°C, while lows can dip down to around 14°C, so while you’ll want plenty of summery clothing, you will need a jacket for cooler evenings.
- South France Weather in September: While September marks the end of summer and temperatures start to cool, the first half of the month is still quite warm, and the crowds of summer begin to dissipate, making it a great time to enjoy the sunshine and the culture without the big crowds. Daytime temperatures range between 22°C and 25°C on average, and nights are still mild with lows at 18°C. Rain is increasing now to 90mm over 8 days, but much of it falls during the latter part of the month. You’ll still be comfortable in your summer clothing, including short-sleeve shirts, shorts and dresses, but you’re likely to need a few items for cooler days and nights. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 90mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in October: Well into autumn now, the average temperature drops five degrees down to 11°C and afternoons usually don’t get much warmer than 15°C, while nights are a chilly 7°C. Expect primarily gray, cold and rainy days, mixed among a few days of sunshine now. This is a time for sweaters and warm coats, and you may need to bring a warm hat and gloves as well. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in October: A chill is likely to be in the air now with things cooling down significantly following the arrival of fall. Afternoon highs have dropped five degrees to just 16°C and nights dip to just 10°C. This is a time for a coat, sweaters, and an umbrella too, as it can be pretty damp this month with an average of 25mm of precipitation over 13 days. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 25mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in October: Fall and winter are the windy months in Atlantic France, and October marks the return of the wind as well as cooler weather, with afternoon highs now 18°C and lows a rather chilly 11°C. It’s time to pack that windproof, waterproof rain jacket now, with precipitation increasing too as 80mm falls over 12 days in October. Pack so that you can dress in layers, but you may need a few more items for cooler weather this month. (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
- South France Weather in October: With fall now in full swing, temperatures cool quite a bit as highs drop four degrees down to 21°C, though you’re still likely to enjoy a number of warm and sunny days mixed among the grey rainy ones. There is a lot more rain in October, with precipitation increasing to 140mm over 10 days. It’s likely you’ll get caught in a few rain showers, so be sure to pack an umbrella, but as it so often happens in the Mediterranean, when it does rain, it passes quickly and usually brings clearer skies afterwards. Now is a good time to pack a mix of clothing that can be layered, and you may even want to bring a swimsuit for a quick dip if you can manage the cooler sea temperatures that hover around 20°C now.
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in November: Visiting in November means you’ll miss the crowds and may find quite a few bargains, but you’ll have to be prepared for the cold. Most days are chilly and damp, and it may even snow with low temperatures averaging just above freezing. Daytime temperatures range from 5°C to 8°C, and sunshine is infrequent, occurring only 7% of the time this month. Precipitation decreases, however, to 40mm over 8 days. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 40mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in November: November is typically cold and wet, with light rain falling over 15 days this month and temperatures generally not reaching higher than 11°C. Nights are particularly chilly with the low averaging just 6°C. There is little sunshine, and frequent grey skies with only two hours of sun each day, but on the upside, lines will be shorter and you’ll have fewer crowds to contend with. Be sure to bring appropriate clothing for cool, damp weather, including an umbrella, gloves and a warm coat. (Average Max Temperature: 11°C. Average Precipitation: 22mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in November: Expect it to be cold, wet and windy now, with winter just around the corner. Days are shorter and there is less sunshine, with about three hours a day now and 70mm of precipitation falling over 14 days on average. Bring your cold weather clothing with daytime temperatures ranging from 10°C to 13°C and chilly nights with lows around 7°C. The good news is that if you bundle up, you may be able to enjoy walks on the beach all to yourself. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- South France Weather in November: Temperatures really plummet now that November is here. Expect plenty of crisp, clear days and sun, with high temperatures averaging 16°C and less rain than October with 110mm over 10 days this month. Now is the time to enjoy the city attractions without the crowds, as well as pleasant strolls on nearly empty beaches. Plan to pack layers for both warm and cool days, as well as chilly nights that can dip down to 9°C. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 110mm.)
- Alsace/Northeast France Weather in December: Winter is here, and while it’s likely to snow, it’s usually not too heavy and it can be a beautiful time to visit this region with its charming towns looking as if they were taken from the pages of a fairy-tale. Plan to bundle up, bringing that warm winter coat, hat, waterproof boots, gloves, scarves and the like, with daytime temperatures ranging from just 3°C to 5°C, and night time often at or below freezing. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Paris, France Weather in December: December is one of the coldest months of the year, falling only behind January, which means there is a chance for snow if you visit now, though odds are still fairly slim. Daytime temperatures typically range between 5°C and 8°C while nighttime lows hover around 3°C and precipitation increases slightly to 26mm on average over 15 days. You’ll need that warm winter clothing now, plan to bundle up well if you hope to enjoy the sights, bringing warm, waterproof boots, a coat, scarves, gloves and the like. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 26mm.)
- Atlantic France Weather in December: December brings even cooler temperatures as one of the coldest months of the year in the Atlantic coast region. It almost never gets below freezing, making snow rare, but rain is abundant with 80mm over 13 days. Temperatures range between 8°C and 10°C during the day, though that’s a bit deceiving as the wind will make it feel colder. Bring your winter clothing, including that waterproof, windproof jacket, sweaters and gloves. (Average Max Temperature: 10°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
- South France Weather in December: Winter arrives this month, and while it’s a lot milder than many European destinations, it’s still likely to be quite cool with daytime temperatures ranging around 10°C to 14°C. It’s a good time to enjoy winter sun, with most days only requiring a sweater or light jacket, though swimming is definitely out with the sea now a chilly 15°C. It’s perfect weather for shopping and sightseeing, as well as enjoying those holiday events. (Average Max Temperature: 14°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
France Events and Festivals
France in January
- New Year’s Day – January 1 is a national holiday in France, which means many places, including restaurants, shops, museums and historic sites will be closed, although there are usually several eateries that will be open for lunch and dinner in any given city. In major cities like Paris, you can enjoy parades. The City of Lights hosts the popular New Year’s Day Grand Parade on the Champs-Elysees.
- Epiphany/Feast of the Kings – Epiphany is also a national holiday and is held annually on January 6th, marking the 12th day of Christmas. It is a tradition to serve a special cake, known as the “une galette des rois,” in France which contains a porcelain figure inside. Whomever finds it in their piece is named king or queen for the day, and wears a paper crown.
- La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc– This international sled dog race is renowned as one of the most challenging and longest in the world, traveling some 750 kilometers over 11 days in January, January 13 to 24 in 2018. A wealth of entertainment can be enjoyed throughout the race that travels throughout Savoie and Haute Savoie, France and Switzerland, starting in Samoens. The opening ceremony includes fireworks, mulled wine, snowshoe hikes, themed exhibitions, igloo building, film screenings and more.
- Truffle Festival, Sarlat – This festival celebrates the truffle each year in mid-January, over the weekend of January 20 and 21 in 2018. It features a large market where visitors can meet with truffle growers and buy fresh truffles as well as truffle-based products, attend workshops and watch truffle hunting demonstrations.
France in February
- La Percée du Vin Jaune, Jura – This wine festival celebrates vin jaune (yellow wine), a type of white wine that’s matured in oak casks after being fermented, over two days in early February. In 2018, it will be hosted on February 3 and 4.
- Valentine’s Day – Valentine’s Day, February 14, is celebrated with chocolates, flowers and other romantic gifts as well as special dinners. In Paris, taking a dinner cruise on the Seine River is especially popular.
- Carnival – This month is all about Carnival, with some of the most elaborate festivities in Nice. In 2018, it will be hosted from February 17 through March 3. It includes six carnival parades made up of 17 floats and 1,000 musicians and dancers from around the world. The Dunkirk Festival is also popular, drawing tens of thousands to watch the colorful parades that are accompanied by 60 musicians dressed as fishermen, and as it passes City Hall, nearly 1,000 pounds of wrapped, smoked herrings are thrown down from the balcony.
- The Violet Festival, Tourrettes-sur-Loup – This long-time festival, hosted annually since 1952 in late February or early March, caps off the violet season and celebrates the coming of spring. The streets will be filled with activity, including local dances and dawn serenades. In 2018, it will be held on February 24 and 25.
France in March
- Sarlat Fest’Oie – This Sarlat Festival is hosted the first weekend of March, March 3-4 in 2018. It celebrates foie gras, with a big traditional market that promotes regional products, including the region’s specialty. It includes all-you-can-eat foie gras, cooking demonstrations, workshops for children and adults, and more.
- St. Patrick’s Day – Most cities in France don’t celebrate March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, but as Paris has a lively Irish community, there are usually a number of bars and pubs that host parties as well as fun street parades.
France in April
- Easter Feria, Arles – Held over Easter Weekend each year, usually in April, Easter Feria will be hosted from March 30 to April 2 in 2018. This popular bullfighting-oriented event marks the start of the French bullfighting season and includes music in the streets and bodegas, transforming Ales into one big party as well as offering the opportunity to learn about the bullfighting traditions in the South of France.
- Kite and Wind Festival, Chatelaillon-Plage – For three days in early April (2018 still to be announced), the Kite and Wind Festival features kite-making contests, demonstrations, free-flying, night flying, activities for children and introductory flights in a hot air balloon.
- Easter Sunday and Easter Monday – France celebrates the Christian holiday with special dinners that include lamb and chocolate on Easter Sunday (April 1 in 2018) and on Easter Monday, it’s a public holiday with many shops, restaurants and sites closed, giving locals and visitors a day to relax and enjoy their chocolate.
France in May
- Labour Day/May Day – Labour Day is a national holiday in France and many other countries in Europe, held annually on May 1, which means there are likely to be a number of closures, though there are usually plenty of restaurants and shops that are still open. This is also May Day, which includes the tradition of giving a gift of lilies of the valley to loved ones to bring them happiness and good luck.
- Victory Day – This annual public holiday on May 8th each year celebrates the end of World War II in France and the people’s freedom, and is a time when you can witness parades and religious ceremonies throughout the country.
- Cannes International Film Festival – This world-famous film festival attracts big-name celebrities to the French Riviera each year in mid-May, with 2018’s event hosted from May 9 through May 20. While it’s meant just for professionals, it tends to attract big crowds of visitors who are passionate about film or hope to meet the hundreds of filmmakers and actors there.
- Night of Museums – On the Saturday closest to May 18 (May 19 in 2018), museums across France open up for free and stay open late.
France in June
- Joan of Arc Festival, Reims – Annually in early June, this weekend-long festival commemorates the coronation of Charles VII in Reims Cathedral. The highlight is the reenactment of the procession, but there are many activities too, including music concerts, a falconry display, stone-cutting and wool-spinning workshops and a festive parade.
- D-Day Festival, Normandy – From late May through mid-June, the D-Day Festival hosts a variety of events, including a memorial parade and musical salute to veterans on June 6 which marks the anniversary of the D-Day landings and the liberation of France. Throughout the festival there are fireworks, historical reenactments, special tours and concerts.
- Bordeaux Wine Festival – One of the world’s best wine producing regions hosts its annual wine festival in mid-June, June 14 to June 18 in 2018. Attendees can sample a wide diversity of wines from the Bordeaux and Aquitaine regions; tour vineyards, attend wine workshops, and watch magic shows and fireworks.
- Fete de la Musique/Music Festival – This festival is hosted in Paris and towns in the surrounding area France on June 21st each year, celebrating the longest day of the year and the first day of summer. Musicians of all types line the streets of the cities and villages, entertaining the crowds.
- Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival, Samois-sur-Seine – This gypsy jazz music festival is held over the last week in June, blending creative, artistic and leisure activities with guitars, jazz and gypsies.
France in July
- Tour de France – One of the most important and popular sporting events in the world, this three-week race takes place annually in July with more than 10 million spectators of all ages gathering by the roadside to cheer on the racers.
- Bastille Day – This national holiday held annually on July 14 is celebrated throughout France, and includes a military parade down the Champs Elysees and fireworks displays. Local firemen also host street dances at many of the fire stations. On the eve of Bastille Day, a massive dance party is hosted over the Place de la Bastille in Paris as well.
- Carcassonne Festival – The highlight event of the summer in the South of France, the Carcassonne Festival is held throughout July and includes nearly 100 concerts and shows from circus and theatre to jazz, classical, opera and dance.
- Colmar International Festival – Hosted for 10 days each year in July, July 4 to 14 in 2018, this festival includes over 20 concerts performed by top musicians, with the annual tribute to a great musician its central theme.
France in August
- Lorient Interceltic Festival – Hosted during the first week of August, this annual festival serves as a gathering for all Celtic cultures, attracting more than 800,000 festival-goers as well as thousands of artists from across the globe. It also hosts a Celtic market, quayside market, traditional processions, traditional Breton games and more.
- L’Assumption/Assumption of Virgin Mary – This is a public holiday held annually on August 15 honoring the assumption of Mother Mary into heaven. Expect some closures.
- Confolens Folklore Festival – This famous world music and dance festival is hosted for a week every August, bringing 600 artists from five continents that put on performances connected with popular traditions and the arts around the world.
- Rock en Seine, Saint-Cloud – The last big rock concert of the summer, the Rock en Sein takes place annually over the last weekend of August with concerts performed on four states.
France in September
- Lille Market – The world’s largest flea market is held in Lille over the first weekend of August featuring some 10,000 exhibitors, including 300 professional secondhand goods dealers, attracting approximately three million visitors each year.
- European Heritage Days – Over two days in mid-September, September 15-16 in 2018, Paris city halls, government buildings and monuments open up their doors to the public for a behind-the-scenes looks at some of the city’s most fascinating places.
- Paris Autumn Festival – Hosted annually beginning in mid-September and running through December (2018 dates still to be announced, this festival highlights some of the most compelling works in music, theater, cinema, contemporary visual art, music, and more.
- French Gastronomy Festival – Held nationwide on the last weekend of September, this festival celebrates French flavors and gastronomy with events throughout France. It includes chef demonstrations, discounted gourmet cuisine, educational activities, tasting of local foods, markets, food-themed outings, tours of wine cellars and breweries, workshops and more.
France in October
- Nuit Blanche, Paris – This festival hosted annually on the first weekend of October is considered a must-experience cultural event with many museums, galleries and cultural institutions open free of charge all night.
- Oktoberfest Paris – Oktoberfest is celebrated in Paris over 10 days in early- to mid-October with lots of traditional beers, German foods and music.
- Jazz Between the Two Towers, La Rochelle – Hosted annually in early October in the center of La Rochelle, this festival features nationally and internationally famous musicians, including both free and fee-based concerts.
- Halloween – Halloween isn’t traditionally celebrated in France, though some clubs and bars in cities like Paris that attract tourists will host parties, and Disneyland Paris typically features a Halloween theme throughout the month of October.
France in November
- All Saints Day – November 1st is a public holiday that commemorates the dead, expect some closures.
- Dijon International and Gastronomic Fair – Hosted during much of the first half of November each year, this fair draws nearly a quarter-million visitors who appreciate good food and wine. It features nearly 600 exhibitors and includes new products as well as new trends.
- Armistice Day – November 11 is a national holiday marking the end of World War I and a day to remember those who served and died to preserve France in various wars. It’s a solemn day that includes visits to the graves of loved ones, a national moment of silence, and, many rites and rituals are held at the great French battlefields.
- Festival of New Wine/Beaujolais Nouveau – This annual event takes place on the third Thursday in November and includes music, festivals and fireworks, with wine released at 12:01 a.m., just weeks after the grapes have been harvest. There are typically parties hosted through the country.
France in December
- Christmas Markets – Christmas markets are hosted across France through Christmas Eve, with some of the best in Colmar and Strasbourg.
- Lyon Festival of Lights, Lyon – The Festival of Lights takes place annually over four days in mid-December, December 7 to 10 in 2017. It includes impressive lighting displays throughout Lyon, which honor Mary, the mother of Jesus. You’ll see candles along the outside of windows, as well as elaborate modern lighting.
- Habits de Lumiere, Epernay – The capital of Champagne celebrates for three days along the Avenue de Champagne, December 8 to December 10 in 2017. It includes street theater, music, illuminations, tastings, a fireworks display and an exhibition of vintage cars.
- Christmas Eve/Christmas Day – This holiday over December 24 and 25 begins with Christmas Eve meal followed by a visit by Santa Claus during the night who leaves presents under the tree, just like it does in the U.S. and other countries that celebrate the Christian holiday.
- New Year’s Eve – December 31st, New Year’s Eve, is celebrated with fireworks in and parties throughout France, with the biggest and best found in Paris. There is an impressive light show and fireworks display at the Eifel Tower, as well as parties across the city, with lots of champagne, music and dancing.
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