The Best Time to Visit France

As the world’s most visited destination, France offers it all. It’s not a question of whether to go, but when. The country is also famous for its rain, so if you’d like to avoid the thickest crowds and enjoy the best chance for mild weather, the most optimal time to visit France is in May or September in most places, with the exception of Paris which is busy year-round.

Here’s a more in-depth look at what you can expect during your visit to France in every month of the year.

Alps Mountain village, France
Paris, France

January

If you arrive just after the holidays, bundle up and plan for rain while exploring Paris as temperatures will be chilly (in the low- to mid-40s in the afternoon). This is also the wettest month of the year, but you’ll appreciate the weather if you plan to visit the French Alps for skiing. The plus side is that shoppers will find great sales, making this the perfect month for shopping enthusiasts.

February

With February hosting Valentine’s Day, it’s a popular time to visit France, with Paris one of the world’s most romantic cities. You’ll find many other places to celebrate your love to, like the “Village of Love,” Saint-Valentin which covers the town with red roses for the Saint Valetin Festival. The cold weather is just another excuse to cuddle up.

March

The weather begins to warm in March, with a mix of sun and rain in most places, with the warmest temperatures seen in the South of France where afternoon highs average in the upper 50s or low 60s, especially later in the month. You’ll still need a rain jacket, but you might find fewer crowds and shorter lines. This is also when the unique Dunkirk Festival takes place, with bundles of fish dumped from a balcony.

April

While April does brings showers, it’s starting to feel like spring now with temperatures often in the low 60s. If you visit later in the month, you’ll see flowers in the parks and gardens bursting into bloom. It can be a great time to visit France, especially around Easter with the holiday celebrated with lots of festivities, including Easter events and Easter markets. Bessières offers an unusual experience, with 10,000 people making a giant omelet out of 15,000 eggs cracked into a massive pan.

Mont St Michel, France
Marseille Calanques , France

May

With summer just around the corner while the biggest crowds of the year have yet to arrive, May is one of the best months to visit France. The beaches will be pleasantly uncrowded, making them perfect for relaxing with a good book. This is when the famous Cannes Film Festival takes place, which attracts big crowds of visitors hoping to meet the hundreds of filmmakers and actors that arrive. By heading to Mont-Saint-Michel on the northwest coast, you can marvel at one of the world’s most breathtaking examples of medieval architecture among more tranquility.

June

June means spending lots of time outdoors taking advantage of the sunshine, although there will still be the occasional shower. Things will start getting busier now, especially in Paris and the Loire Valley which hosts the Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival. This month also brings the summer sales for shopaholics.

July

July is the warmest month of the year, making it ideal for sailing along the French Riviera. There will be many people sunbathing along the sandy beaches, and in Paris, France’s most important festival is hosted on July 14th which celebrates the start of the French Revolution. The festivities include free concerts, a huge parade, and fireworks from the Eiffel Tower.

August

August is also beach time, with plenty of sunshine and opportunities to enjoy outdoor festivals. The coast is really the place to go, as it will almost feel tropical. The mountainous areas will be gorgeous too, although many will be there enjoying the idyllic weather and scenery.

Provence town, France
Strasbourg, France

September

Another one of the best months for a trip to France, temperatures may begin to cool slightly, although it will still be beach weather along the French Riviera, and crowds begin to thin a bit. Visitors can also enjoy the grape harvests that get underway in September, and lively festivals soon follow.

October

Temperatures dip to the mid-50s in October, but this month is ideal for foodies, with Paris hosting one of the world’s largest shows dedicated to chocolate, Le Salon du Chocolat, and Oktoberfest, with traditional beers, German foods and music.

November

The weather may not be the best, with rain and chilly temps the norm, but there will be fewer visitors and lots for wine lovers, with some 120 Beaujolais Nouveau-related festivals complete with wine tasting contests.

December

With winter here, you’ll need to really bundle up now but you can enjoy a wealth of fantastic Christmas markets across the country, along with sparkling holiday lights, including Paris’ Champs-Elysees which will be beautifully illuminated.