The best time to visit France
The lavender fields of Provence turn deep purple in June and are all aflutter with bees and butterflies – and photographers.
For most people, the best time to visit France is summer (June to August). Of course, deciding exactly when to go depends on what you want to do when you’re there. May and June are France’s spring, a temperate time for walking when the wildflowers are in full bloom. Trekking between mountain refuges across lofty terrain reaches fever pitch in mid-July, when the snow has cleared and the risk of avalanches are minimal. If you’re heading to the South of France, May to July is the best time to visit the French Riviera for warm sunshine and a less crowded coastline. Late November to early April is winter: the optimum time for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and mountain sports in the Alps and Pyrenees.
A month by month guide on when to go to France
January in France
January is great for a winter activity holiday in the French Alps
February in France
March in France
April in France
May in France
June in France
June is great for Mont Blanc hiking
The spring reawakening after winter is the favourite time for folk living in the countryside
– Peter Roche, from our partner Moulin du Chemin
July in France
August in France
August is great for a France family adventure holiday
September in France
October in France
November in France
December in France
Our France Holidays
Self guided walking holiday in France
Idyllic walking in France with great food and wine included
From €1450 7 days ex flights
Mont Blanc holiday, Tour du Mont Blanc
The best of the Tour du Mont Blanc
From £1749 to £1999 8 days inc UK flights
Family adventure holiday to France
Life enhancing family adventure & yoga in the French Alps
From £1053 7 days ex flights
Snowshoeing in the French Alps
Guided snowshoeing in the Alps staying in luxury accom.
From €1396 8 days ex flights
Guided walking holidays in the French Alps
Catered Chalet Based Guided Walking in the Giffre Valley
From £660 to £843 8 days ex flights
Winter activity holiday in the French Alps
A flexible winter multi activity holiday in the French Alps
From €698 7 days ex flights
French Alps Weather Chart
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Best times to visit France for festivals & events
Fancy celebrating a French festival while on holiday? Remember to book well in advance for major national events such as Carnival and Bastille Day.
Nice Carnival (mid-February)Nice holds one of the biggest carnivals in the world, where Catholics traditionally feast before observing 40 days of fasting for Lent. Nice Carnival bids farewell to winter in ecstatic style – and in the mildest and sunniest spot on the French Riviera. The carousing has been going on here since 1294, although these days it’s extended into a two-week extravaganza of parades with gigantic satirical floats and firework shows.
Pelerinage des Gitans (May)Villages in France celebrate their patron saints throughout the year, but there’s perhaps no pilgrimage so lively as the hundreds of Roma who travel to the tiny village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue. It’s all in the name of Sara, their patron saint, who fled there from the Holy Land in medieval times, whom they celebrate with a flamboyant fiesta of processions, dancing in the streets, music and general merriment for three whole weeks.
Paris Pride (late June)Part celebration, part protest, Paris Pride (Marche des Fiertés LGBT) has been raising the voices of France’s LGBTQIA+ community for more than 40 years. Half a million people pack the streets of Paris for events that range from exhibitions and debates to roller skating and club nights. The parade is the main event – a carnivalesque call for equal rights that starts from the bohemian quarter of Montparnasse.
Tour de France (late June-July)The Tour de France is the most famous cycling race in the world. You can watch from podiums in the big cities along the route, which changes every year, but you’ll get a better atmosphere in small towns and villages that really get a kick out of the cyclists bursting through their usually sleepy backroads. The quickest cyclists will usually zoom past within an hour of each other… after which you can go back to your Brie and Burgundy.
Bastille Day (14 July)Bastille Day celebrates the Storming of the Bastille, the medieval political prison that was overthrown in the early days of the French Revolution. In France, Bastille Day is simply called Fête Nationale – or National Celebration – and involves fireworks, parades and street parties that pop up from the biggest cities to the smallest villages.
Lavender fields, Provence (July)While not exactly a festival, marvelling at Provence’s multitude of orderly striped lavender fields has definitely become something of an event over the last few years. The best time to see the lavender fields in Provence is in early July. Most of the fields will be a haze of purple, you’ll beat the school holiday crowds, and you’ll catch them before the harvest does.
Assumption of the Virgin Mary (15 August)Don’t assume you’ll get anywhere fast on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary – a national holiday that sees most of the French population taking off to the coast or countryside with their families. It’s a Catholic celebration of when Mary was whisked up to heaven to be reunited with Jesus. Cue processions of Mary’s statue and street dancing that double as a send-off to summer.
Beaujolais Nouveau Day (third Thursday in November)Wine snobs, move aside – Beaujolais Day is here. This is no Champagne; it’s an easy-drinking table wine made from Gamay grapes and painstakingly harvested by hand. What started as a celebration of the end of harvest hundreds of years ago has turned into a race to get the freshly pressed and bottled wine out into the world by 12.01am on the third Thursday in November – the time that Beaujolais bottles can legally be uncorked according to the strict AOC rules. Drink it then and you – along with hundreds of other Beaujolais devotees at events and tastings throughout France – will be sipping a wine that’s only a few weeks off the vine.
Our travellers also ask…
What is the cheapest month to go to France?February is usually the cheapest month to visit France. It’s firmly in the low season when fewer people visit, so holidays and flights are usually lower priced. The mid-February school holidays are the exception, however – this is when lots of European school children head for the slopes.
When is the best time to visit Paris?We think the best time to visit Paris is spring and autumn. Pink blossom trees flower along the boulevards in spring, while tulips stack Luxembourg Gardens. Autumn, meanwhile, is cool and crisp, but still pleasant enough for walks along the Seine. December also has its charms, especially when the Christmas markets light up the city squares. However, Paris is most popular in summer; you’ll find it busy with tourists but empty of Parisians as they go off on their holidays.
What is the best time of year to go to the South of France?If you’re seeking hot, sunny weather, the best time to visit the French Riviera and South of France is in summer. Take note that its reputation precedes it – the coast is packed with people in August. Things quieten by the end of August as school holidays wind down and temperatures cool to warm-but-not-too-hot sunshine. It’s a great time for hiking and cycling… or just lounging by the sea. For warm sunshine minus the crowds, visit the South of France in spring (March-April).
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