When is the best time to visit France?
France has a temperate climate with mild winters and relatively cool summers in most regions. Therefore, June, July, and August are the recommended months to go and explore this European country.
But, depending on the activities and sights you’re after, you might consider another period to be perfect for a journey. We rank the best time to travel to France, based on your favorite holiday interests.
Continuing to Spain? Check out our guide on the best time to visit Spain.
Best time for city trips
During Spring and early Autumn, the temperature generally is pleasant, and the crowds are smaller. Especially in the southern cities, such as Marseille and Nice, it might be a bit warm to go on a discovery tour during the Mediterranean summer. December obviously is the perfect time to visit France’s spectacular Christmas markets, such as the one in Strasbourg and Colmar.
Best time for skiing and snowboarding
Late November to early March is the moment to get your winter sports gear out and hit the slopes in the Occitanie, Rhône-Alpes, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions. Guaranteed snowfall and operating lifts transform the Pyrenees and French Alps into a paradise for winter sports lovers.
Best time to avoid the crowds
World-famous Paris and other major cities see a peak of tourism in the summer months, so any month outside the June to August period is the right choice. From January to May, and September to November, you’ll share France’s famous sights with a lot fewer people.
Best time for hiking
Astounding hiking areas in France include the island Corsica, the Pyrenees Mountains, and the French Alps in Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. May, June, and September are excellent months to head for the hiking trails in these locations. The sun on higher altitudes won’t be too harsh, the snow has melted in most places, and the overall temperatures are pleasantly mild.
Best time for sunbathing
Sun-seekers rave about Corsica, but especially the French Riviera – or Cote d’Azur, dotted with sun-drenched beaches and resort towns. The best time to get a tan and take your family to the beach is during the summer, from June to September. It can get pretty toasty on the south coast, and the temperatures consistently top 30 degrees during July and August. Since it gets pretty toasty, it’s advised to bring plenty of sunscreen and a parasol for protection.
Check out our Essential Summer Read: 5 Dangerous Sunscreen Mistakes.
Best time for birdwatching
France has some superb birdwatching spots, like the Camargue Wetlands on the south coast and Parc Marquenterre in the northwest. Spring is the perfect time to visit the latter, as many nesting birds can be seen from the observatories. Both Spring and Autumn are good periods to discover the Camargue Wetlands, as most migratory birds reside here during those seasons.
Best time to book your accommodation
France is a loved destination in summer, so it’s best to book everything four to six months in advance. During Autumn and Winter, you’ll find more vacancies and discounted tours and accommodations.
Best Time to Visit France: Travel Seasons
High season (July to September)
Warm weather and school holidays all over Europe make the summer season the busiest time in France. Especially the beaches along the Cote d’Azur and popular city destinations such as Paris are immensely popular from July to September. Traveling to France during the summer months requires quite a bit of planning, as hotels and campings tend to get fully booked months ahead.
Low season (November to February)
Generally speaking, fewer travelers explore France during the winter months. Especially those who travel to see the cities or go hiking often skip these months, as the temperatures are relatively low and it’s often gloomy. The low season obviously does differ per region. The peaks of the French Alps are covered with snow, and many winter sports fanatics find their way to the slopes from November to February.
Shoulder season (April, May, October)
During these months, France receives a decent number of tourists, but the summer months’ crowds are nowhere to be seen. The beautiful colors in nature, enjoyable temperatures, and shorter queues for attractions play to the advantage of holiday goers.
Best Time to Visit France: Weather by Region
Metropolitan France – or European France – has a land area of more than 540.000 square kilometers, and makes up for a large part of western Europe. The variety in climates all over the country is significant.
Northern France (Hauts-de-France, Normandie, Ile-de-France, Grand-Est)
This region of France, which includes well-known locations such as Paris, Reims, and Strasbourg, deals with a temperate climate. The coastal parts of Hauts-de-France and Normandie have a relatively wet and cold sea climate, with precipitation mainly occurring during Autumn and Winter. Paris is a more inland city and has a slightly drier and warmer climate, with often hot weather during the summer. The northeast part where Strasbourg is located has dry winters and wet summers. It doesn’t get as chilly in winter, as temperatures usually range from 0 to 10 degrees Celsius. Spring is the perfect time to do a city trip to Paris or an adventurous holiday in the hills of the French Ardennes.
Western France (Brittany, Pays de la Loire, Nouvelle Aquitaine)
The western coastline of France stretches out for almost 800 kilometers from the heart of Brittany in the northwest to the border with Spain in the southwest. The Bay of Biscay brings a cooling breeze during the summer months, but the winters are mild in the west. In places like Bordeaux, freezing conditions are rare, but the winter is a very wet season. November and December are notorious for showers and storms. Spring and Summer are excellent periods to walk along the epic coastlines or tour the vineyards this region is loved for.
Eastern France (Grande Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes)
France’s scenic east has jaw-dropping nature reserves, such as the Jura Mountains, the Vosges, and some of Europe’s highest peaks. The east of France is an extensive part. The climate changes by the altitude. The elevated ski areas around Mont Blanc and Chamonix have cold winters with an average temperature below zero and an average maximum of 17 degrees during the summer months. The lower areas near the Swiss border are wetter and somewhat warmer than the high mountains down south.
Southern France (Occitanie, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’ Azur, Corsica)
Sunbathers and beach bums will feel right at home in the southernmost part of France. The summer here is a great time to work on a tan, as the daily mean often exceeds 30 or even 35 degrees. An additional advantage of the south is the dry weather, especially during the summer months. With over 11 hours of sunshine in Nice during July, you can look forward to a sun-drenched journey. Corsica has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers. As a beach lover, you might want to visit Corsica during the peak of summer. But for multi-day hikes over the island’s legendary trails, May and September offer the best conditions.
Best Time to Visit France: Events and Festivals
It’s not just the sun and enchanting cities that draw travelers to France. The country hosts countless exciting events that could be a perfect fit within your family trip.
Check out our 10 Best Family Events in France.
Nice Carnival (February)
The streets of Nice are packed with an impressive demonstration of fashion, artworks, shows, and dance performances. Nice Carnival is one of the significant carnival events in Europe, and bringing your family here is undoubtedly a highlight of the trip.
Lemon Festival Menton (February)
This celebration in the southern French town of Menton honors this citrus fruit for over two weeks. Menton hosts parades and gardens decorated with lemons. You’ll also have a chance to visit orchards and soak up the refreshing scent of lemons.
Great Roman Games (April)
The city of Nimes hosts a genuinely spectacular festival. You can time-travel back to the Roman era in this southern city, where life in the Roman empire is portrayed during the Great Roman Games. In Nimes’ well-preserved ancient amphitheaters, actors from all over Europe participate in chariot racing and gladiator fighting. Military parades run through the city as well.
D-Day Festival Normandy (May / June)
To commemorate the Allied troops’ landing on the beaches of Normandy, this region hosts over 80 events in Spring. Parades of military vehicles, re-enacting events, and bunker tours are just some of the activities to do in this region during the D-Day Festival.
Paris Chocolate Fair (October / November)
Have you and your kids ever dreamed of filling your tummy with nothing more than chocolatey goodies? Bring your family to this legendary chocolate-themed event that brings chefs and chocolatiers from all over the world together. Make sure to have an appetite, as the Paris Chocolate Fair houses over 700 stalls.
Strasbourg Christmas Market (November / December)
The Strasbourg Christmas Market is the most beloved Christmas event in France for good reasons. The selection of stalls is boundless, there is an ice skating rink, and live concerts in the open air make for an amazing atmosphere.