France is one of the few countries that concentrate on a variety of landscapes, from sandy golden beaches to the snowy peaks of the Alps. That is why France is the perfect place for a holiday at any time of year. The tourist potential of the country is huge and varied: sightseeing tourism, beach holidays on the Cote d'Azur, ski holidays, water sports, and hiking. Every time you travel to France, you discover something new and unique. A country of medieval castles with their mysteries and history, culinary masterpieces by the best chefs, expensive resorts with the best service and beaches, and world culture, theater, and movie premieres, can not help but surprise and delight.
Best time to visit France
The best times to visit France are from April to June and September to November. During these months, there are not many visitors in the country, and the temperature is moderate in contrast to the hot summer. If you like skiing, head to the ski resorts anytime between December and early April.
We recommend getting to know the different regions of France before or after the vacation period, which lasts from mid-July to the end of August. During this period, many businesses are closed, public transport is less frequent, so plan your trip carefully. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, the French Riviera is warm most of the year, and in winter in Paris, you can see the cultural attractions, such as the Louvre, without standing in long lines. If you want to partake in a real wine tasting, head to the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions between March and May for some natural beauty, or in October and November for the grape harvest.
The best times to visit France are from April to June and September to November.
Weather in France
France has a temperate maritime climate, transitional to continental in the east and subtropical in the Mediterranean. Summers are hot (+20 — +25 in July and August). The best times to visit Paris are in May and September-October, and the French Riviera in June and September.
Summer in Corsica is long and hot: from May to October +21 — +27. On the slopes, there is snow until June. The best months for a vacation in Corsica are May-June and September-October.
The first snow falls in the French Alps in late November and holds until mid-May. Because of the mild climate, temperatures in the valleys at 1500 m do not drop below -10 even in winter. The best time for skiing begins in mid-February when the weather becomes sunny. The height of the snow cover varies from 0.7 to 4 m depending on the altitude of the terrain.
January in France
When cold weather hits most of the country, it's time to head for the northern mountain slopes as the ski season begins in the snow-capped Alps. January is the coldest month in many major cities, such as Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux, with average temperatures of around 6. It will be chilly even on the Côte d'Azur, so whichever region you head to, take a jacket and plenty of warm clothes.
It's no secret that France has some of the most picturesque ski resorts in the world. Among the most popular are Chamonix, Courchevel, Tignes, and Val d'Isère. During this time, beginners and more experienced skiers can ski in the best snow, and relax in après-ski establishments and cozy alpine villages. If you're not a fan of alpine skiing, visit the winter sales, during which many stores offer discounts of up to 70%. During the breaks, you can warm up in charming cafes, bistros, and breweries and try delicious French cuisine and great wines.
February in France
By February, the ski season is in full swing, so be prepared that the ski resorts will be crowded with families coming here for school vacations. Temperatures in the Alps will drop to sub-zero, but the rest of the country will average around +5. Many couples will go to Paris to celebrate the Valentine's Day festival, but in February there will be many other interesting events in the country.
There is a carnival in sunny Nice, in the south of the country, where the weather is warmer. Participants dress up in unusual costumes and take part in floral battles, and incredible platforms move through the streets. On the border with Italy, the town of Menton hosts a lemon festival, reminiscent of the golden days when the city was Europe's largest producer of lemons. Here you can see everything from a fruit parade to citrus sculptures.
March in France
With the blooming of the first spring flowers, France turns into a picturesque garden. March is the end of the high season at the ski resorts. School vacations continue until the middle of the month, so there will be a few skiers and snowboarders on the slopes. It is still freezing in the Alps, and the average temperature in the rest of the country will hold at +8 — +10, so a good winter coat will still come in handy.
In the south, the fun festivals continue and it's getting warmer, up to +15. Thanks to the Irish community in Paris, St. Patrick's Day on March 17 will not go unnoticed. The city's pubs will play Irish folk music, and Guinness beer will flow in rivers. At the beginning of the Easter season, you can go on a day trip to the town of Flavigny-sur-Osren in Burgundy, where the shooting of the 2000 drama "Chocolat" with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp in the lead roles took place.
April in France
Mild weather in the north and a pleasant Mediterranean atmosphere in the south make April the best month to visit France. You can continue skiing in high mountain resorts like Tignes and Val d'Isère, where there's still plenty of snow at this time of year. In addition, you can take scenic walks among the pink flowers and snow-covered mountain peaks. The average temperature in the Alps will be around +7, while in Paris and the rest of mainland France it will reach a comfortable +12. Bring comfortable shoes for walking, a sturdy umbrella in case of April showers, and warm clothes for the evening.
It's Easter time, and there are festivities all over the country. Tempting sweets appear in the windows of chocolate stores in France, and Easter eggs are "brought" not by rabbits but by flying bells. In the town of Besières in the southwest, dozens of chefs make a giant omelet of 15,000 eggs, and at the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte, on the outskirts of Paris, the largest Easter egg hunt in the country is organized.
May in France
With the arrival of spring and warm weather, the number of cultural events and festivities increases. It may be quite warm during the day, but in the evenings it's still chilly, so don't forget warm clothes to feel cozy. When going to the capital, bring an umbrella, as most of the rain in Paris falls in May, and the least rain at this time is in Nice.
The first of May is a public holiday in France. During this time, most businesses are closed, and public transportation runs less frequently. On this day, when the streets are in a festive atmosphere, you can buy lilies of the valley for good luck. Film lovers should not miss the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, which takes place in May for 12 days. There are free film screenings on the beach. You can also see celebrities on the red carpet. In May, there are the biggest sporting events, including the French Open tennis championships, the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix race and MotoGP, the most prestigious motorcycle racing circuit in the world.
June in France
Real summer begins in June with warm, cloudless weather. But don't forget to pack some warm clothes for the rain and chilly evenings. Temperatures vary a couple of degrees across the country, with average temperatures around +20. Paris gets especially lively at this time of year, but there are plenty of interesting and sparsely populated towns outside the capital, where you can continue to explore the culture of the country. The festival season is at its peak. There are free concerts all over the country during World Music Day (on the 21st), and the Paris Jazz Festival offers the best musicians from all around the world. Bordeaux will host a four-day wine festival where attendees can taste the best local wines. School vacations start in the middle of July, so it is time for a trip to the beautiful, quiet coast of the French Riviera, where the average temperature is +25.
July in France
Summer is in full swing, but be aware of hot spells, especially in the south, because of the danger of forest fires. With the school vacations upon us, most cities will be crowded by visitors and families with children. The weather will remain cool in the northern region of the Alps, where the thermometer will remain at around +17. But if you like the heat of summer, head to the central cities and beaches of the French Riviera.
Throughout the country, Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14 with parades and fireworks. If you're in the Alps in July, you can see the Tour de France cycling race, where the best athletes in the world compete to win the yellow jersey. Do you want to listen to music? Colmar in Alsace offers an annual international music festival with 20 classical concerts over 10 days. In the south, about 100 concerts and shows in various genres, from jazz to opera, will be held in the city of Carcassonne.
August in France
Because the locals usually go on summer vacation from July 14 (Bastille Day) through mid-August, some stores and restaurants may be closed during the first half of the month. Most locals head to the southern coastal towns to relax on the Mediterranean beaches, where the average temperature is around 25°C. If you are going to follow their example, bring light cotton clothes and something warmer for the evening. When planning a trip to northern France, leave room in your suitcase for a raincoat and a jacket, as evenings will be cooler. In August, when it's hot and crowded, it's best to go to the festivals. The western suburbs of Paris host the annual Rock on the Seine festival with a fantastic lineup that includes some of the most popular bands. The five-day festival in the city of Dax in the southwest draws up to 800,000 visitors.
September in France
September is a great time to travel to France. The last days of summer are warm and sunny, but the temperature does not exceed +20. Also, September is the end of the school vacation, and it is less crowded, so you can see the main sights at a leisurely pace. The summer heat dies down, and stores and restaurants reopen after the summer vacations. This is a good time to visit popular cities like Paris, Nice, and Lyon. There are still plenty of interesting events to attend. In the first week of September, the largest flea market in Europe opens in the city of Lille, and the Ravel Festival, featuring traditional Basque music, takes place on the Atlantic coast. As the harvest is in full swing this month, it's a good time to take a wine tour of major regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne.
October in France
Real autumn is coming to the country, turning the trees red-gold, and the days are getting shorter and noticeably cooler. It's mostly sunny during the day, but the weather gets unpredictable unless you're in the warmer southern region at the beginning of the month. Don't forget your jacket and umbrella, as rain is possible.
The first weekend in October is the annual White Night art festival in Paris, during which many museums, galleries, and other cultural centers are free all night. Halloween is celebrated in France without much fanfare, but both Disneyland parks in Paris will give you a good scare and make you laugh. Lyon, considered the cradle of cinema, hosts the Lumière Brothers Film Festival. The festival has over 400 film screenings all over the city.
November in France
When it comes to temperatures, November rarely sees a thermometer rise above 10 degrees, compared to an average of 13 degrees in the warmer south. Stock up on warm and waterproof clothing, as most of the country will be wet and windy.
On All Saints' Day, November 1, and Armistice Day, November 11, which are public holidays, there may be disruptions to public transportation. Beginning sommeliers should plan to attend the Beaujolais Nouveau Festival on the third Thursday in November. This celebration offers the opportunity to taste excellent young wine just a few weeks after the harvest ends. The wine festival continues with the Hospices de Beaune wine auction in Burgundy on the third Sunday of the month. All proceeds from the auction go to charity.
December in France
The holiday spirit and hot mulled wine will warm you up in the cold wintertime. Christmas markets are popping up all over the country, and school vacations are in full swing again, therefore the big cities will be even busier than usual. The ski season is about to begin in the Alps and Pyrenees, where you may enjoy all kinds of winter sports. Don't forget a warm jacket, thick socks, and gloves to keep you cozy in all the weather in December.
For a festive atmosphere, head to the Christmas markets in the Alsace region, with their unique blend of French and German culture. Stroll between the stalls in the light of thousands of twinkling lights with a mug of mulled wine. The most popular are the markets of Strasbourg (the oldest in Europe) and Riboville, in the spirit of the Middle Ages, with vendors dressed in funny costumes. Meanwhile, in Lyon, the Festival of Lights showcases the major monuments and rivers illuminated by video effects, lasers, and LEDs.
Best time for beach rest in France
Perhaps no other country in Europe can compete with France for the number of beaches and natural and climatic diversity of the coast. The beaches in Normandy in terms of water temperature and weather have little difference from the Baltic States. The resort towns of Deauville, Trouville, and Honfleur have been fancied by northerners since the 19th century; there are enough English and German visitors there besides the wealthy Parisians.
The picturesque bays of Brittany are famous for high tides; at low tide, one is not supposed to swim, and they collect in the surf zone that leaves the ocean. The water is warmer than in Normandy (especially on the south coast), and the swimming season stretches until August and September. In addition to beach delights, Brittany is world famous for its thalassotherapy centers. The South of Brittany stretches for 600 km along the sandy shores of the Bay of Biscay. In contrast to Normandy and Breton, the beaches of La Rochelle, Biarritz, and Arcachon "look" to the west; calm winds from the open ocean beat down the scorching heat and create ideal conditions for windsurfing.
If you like the Mediterranean but do not want to fight for a deck chair on the Cote d'Azur, your choice is Languedoc-Roussillon. French families with small children have long appreciated these beaches for their warm, calm waters and shallow water near the shores. Speaking of the resorts of Nice, Menton, and Antibes makes no sense to go into detail — only the deaf have not heard about them. The only thing worth mentioning is that the beaches closer to the Italian border are pebbly and not suitable for children. Be prepared for overcrowded beaches and the general expensiveness.
Festivals and events in France
Few people would argue that the most famous holiday in France is the day of the seizure of the Bastille. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Paris to see the dapper French soldiers; appreciate the brilliant training of pilots performing aerobatics at the Champ de Mars; and feel a sense of unity with the Parisians during the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. It makes sense not to arrive right before the festival, but a couple of days before it: July 13th is considered by Parisians to be the Day of Freedom of Speech, and in the streets, you can see crowds of demonstrators gathered for different reasons—from serious to ridiculous. The evening concludes with a celebration called the Firemen's Ball, honoring the only people in uniform who are universally respected in France.
Other holidays are also loved and celebrated in France. Christmas and the September harvest festival are best spent in Alsace and Mardi Gras in the north. New Year in France is a time of guests and social parties. It is worth celebrating in Paris, and Easter in Brittany, which is still famous for its zealous devotion to Catholicism... But whichever region you choose, whichever date you choose, you won't be bored.