If you are thinking of taking a trip to France then you are in for a real treat!
France is a country of romance, wonderful food and a fascinating history. It is a country that welcomes travellers all year round, there is always something to do, see and visit. Nestled in Western Europe, the climate and landscape are diverse, making it an ideal destination for every season.
So let's take a journey through the seasons of France and discover the best times for you to visit and explore everything it has to offer.
France at a Glance
Before we look at the seasons, let's paint a picture of France.
It has evidence of its history in profusion, from the medieval châteaux of the Loire Valley to the iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Palace of Versailles and its connections to King Louis XIV.
With a world-Class cuisine, France is famous for its pastries, cheeses and wines. With diverse and stunning landscapes, from the rolling vineyards in Bordeaux to the lavender fields in Provence, the beautiful French Riviera and the stunning beauty of the Alps there is truly a mountain of experiences to be had in this amazing country.
I could go on but let’s first look at the seasons to help decide when would be the best time to visit, all of course depending on what it is you want to do when you get there.
Best Time to Visit France
Low Season in France (November - March)
When it comes to the low season in France, you're looking at the winter months, roughly from November to March. This is the period when you can expect fewer tourists, which can be a blessing if you prefer to travel during the quieter months.
Climate in France during the low season
Temperatures start to decrease during the low season with November temperatures falling to between 6°C to 13°C (43°F to 55°F). From December to February it gets quite cold, especially in the mountains and in the northern regions like Paris, temperatures can dip to as low as 3°C to 8°C (37°F to 46°F) though in the southern regions like Provence, winters are milder with temperatures averaging between 5°C to 12°C (41°F to 54°F). The low season in the mountains will see temperatures dropping below 0 °C (32°F) with plenty of snow.
Things to do in France during the low season
- Paris has world-renowned museums like the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay. In the low season, you can visit these without having to deal with queues and lots of crowds.
- France is famous for its wines so take a trip to one of its many vineyards and wineries in regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy.
- If you love winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, then the French Alps is the perfect place to be as it comes alive during the winter season.
- If you visit in December, Strasbourg and Colmar have fantastic Christmas markets, full of festive decorations and local crafts.
- Explore the châteaux of the Loire Valley without the summer crowds.
- Stroll through many lovely French towns and cities like Avignon, Nice, or Lyon to see its architecture, history and local culture at a more relaxed pace.
Remember, the low season in France might mean cooler weather, but it also offers a unique and more peaceful perspective of this beautiful country.
Shoulder Season in France (April to June) (September to October)
The shoulder season in France generally falls during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). It's a fantastic time to visit because the weather is lovely, pleasant and warm and travelling around France during this season means travelling without the crowds and high prices of the peak tourist season.
Climate in France during the shoulder season
In spring, the weather is gradually warming up, temperatures range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F) in April, climbing to 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) in June. It's perfect for hiking, climbing and exploring.
During the autumn shoulder season, the weather is comfortable. September is particularly pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). October gets a bit cooler, but still mild, around 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F).
Things to do in France during the shoulder season
- The autumn trees in regions like Alsace and Burgundy are stunning, well worth a visit.
- Go wine tasting, and enjoy lovely drives through the vineyards.
- Visit the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Palace of Versailles, all with shorter queues.
- Attend cultural events and festivals, the Cannes Film Festival is in May and Paris Fashion Week in September.
- Visit the lavender Fields in Provence, late spring during the shoulder season is when the lavender fields in Provence burst into colours.
- Go to Mont Saint-Michel, an island commune in Normandy, as its less crowded during the shoulder season your visit will be a bit more peaceful.
- Visit some of the many châteaux in the Loire Valley,like Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau.
- Go hiking in the Alps: During the shoulder season the French Alps are perfect for hiking and outdoor activities as temperatures are mild and the scenery is stunning.
- Head to the many beautiful beaches along the west, east and south coast of France, the French Riviera or Brittany are wonderful in the milder temperatures and less busy.
- Explore the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, the Bayeux Tapestry, and the historical sites in Normandy.
High Season in France (June to August)
The high season is a fantastic time to explore France.
Typically, the high season runs from June to August and during these months, you can bask in the warmth of the summer sun and enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities.
The weather is generally lovely, with temperatures ranging from comfortable to warm. It's the perfect time to stroll through the romantic streets of Paris, visit the picturesque vineyards of Bordeaux, or lounge on the beautiful beaches of the French Riviera.
Climate in France during the high season
In June, the weather is generally warm with long daylight hours and July is peak summer, with warm temperatures that can be ideal for outdoor activities. August tends to be warm as well, but some regions, especially in the south, can experience a bit of a heatwave with temperatures often reaching from 20°C to well over 35°C (68°F to 95°F).
However France, being a diverse country in terms of climate, can have variations. In the northern regions like Paris, the weather is generally milder compared to the Mediterranean areas in the south so it's always a good idea to check the specific region you plan to visit for more accurate and detailed weather information.
Things to do in France during the high season
There's a lot to do during the high season in France:
- Explore Paris and visit iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Notre-Dame Cathedral.
- Stroll along the Seine River or have a picnic in one of the city's beautiful parks.
- Head to the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) for a bit of beach time. Cities like Nice, Cannes and Saint-Tropez have glamorous beaches and a vibrant nightlife.
- Explore the vineyards in regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy and Provence and learn about the art of winemaking.
- France hosts lots of festivals and sporting events during the high season. The Avignon Theatre Festival and the Tour de France are some of the famous cultural and sporting events to catch if you can.
- Go hiking, cycling or simply stroll through the beautiful countryside, these are great ways to have fun in the high season.
- French cuisine is famous for its quality and the high season is a great time to sit at outdoor cafes enjoy the food and watch the world go by.
Where is the best weather in France?
France is a big country with a diverse climate so the best weather in France depends on what you are looking for. If you prefer milder temperatures and sunny days look at visiting the southern regions like Provence or the French Riviera during the spring and early autumn as the weather is more pleasant without the scorching heat of summer or the cold of winter.
However, if you're a fan of skiing or winter sports then the French Alps are your best bet, from December to April the snowfall is abundant so is a great time to go.
If you enjoy a mix of cultural and nice weather, then the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and early autumn (September to October) are generally the best times to go and explore all parts of France.
So the best weather in France will vary depending on what it is you want to do. Generally, the spring and early autumn months will give you the nicest temperatures so are a good choice for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Overall, France's high season provides the perfect blend of culture and outdoor activities. Just remember to book accommodations and attractions in advance as this season will be busy!
When are the cheapest months to visit France
The most budget-friendly time to visit France is not during the peak tourist seasons, which are typically during the summer months, especially July and August as prices for accommodations, flights, and attractions are all more likely to be higher during this period.
If you are travelling on a budget then the shoulder season months April to June and September to October are probably the best months to go. During these months, the weather is usually pleasant so you can often find good deals on flights and accommodation, you'll also get to travel round France with fewer people, making it nicer and more cost-effective.
However if you're really looking for the absolute cheapest time to visit, then the winter months (November to February) will give you the lowest prices on flights and accommodation. Be aware though that some attractions may have reduced hours or be closed during the off-season and the weather can be quite chilly, especially in the northern regions.
When is the best time to go skiing in France
Skiing in France is fantastic and the best time to go really depends on what you're looking for in your ski trip.
Winter (December to February)
This is the classic time to go skiing in France when the Alps and the Pyrenees are covered in snow and the ski resorts are buzzing. December can be a bit quieter and less crowded, but January and February, with the best skiing conditions, definitely get more crowded, especially during the school holidays.
Late Winter/Early Spring (March to April)
If you prefer milder weather and longer days then late winter and early spring are a great time to go as the crowds start thinning out. You may also get a bit of sunbathing in as it can be quite warm, even high up on the mountains....try and catch some end-of-season deals.
So, the best time to go skiing in France really depends on your preferences—whether you love the deep winter snow or prefer a bit of sunshine with your skiing.
When is the Rainy Season in France?
Rainfall in France varies depending on where you are and what time of year it is. Generally the western parts of France, like Brittany and Normandy are wetter during the year though its mainly drizzle or light rain.
The rainiest months in these western areas are usually from October to February, with December being one of the wettest months of all, there is however occasional rain all year.
However a trip to the mountains increases the likelihood of getting wet, the French Alps, for instance, experience a lot of rain, especially during the summer months with June to September tending to be the wettest period, with occasional showers and thunderstorms.
In the Pyrenees, which form the natural border between France and Spain, you can also expect a fair share of rainfall, particularly in the summer. The mountainous terrain often contributes to localised variations in weather, so it's always a good idea to check the forecast for the specific area you plan to visit.
If you're considering the best time to visit the mountains of France, late spring to early fall is generally popular among outdoor enthusiasts. The weather is milder, and you can enjoy the breathtaking landscapes without the harsh winter conditions. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts closer to your travel dates to make the most of your mountainous adventure in France.
If you're looking to avoid rain on your trip to France though then you'd be wise to head south during the summer or the western regions in the spring and early summer.
France's diverse seasons mean there's never a wrong time to visit. Whether you love a snowy winter, a blossomy spring, a sun-soaked summer, or a colourful autumn, France has it all. Bon voyage!