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Grape harvesting in France | © skeeze / Pixabay
Grape harvesting in France | © skeeze / Pixabay
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When's The Best Time of Year To Visit France?

Picture of Jade Cuttle
Updated: 21 April 2018
France has always captivated travellers’ hearts thanks to its gastronomic excellence and glorious architecture, but France is also renowned for its rainfall. This article will tell you everything you need to know – from average temperatures and rainfall – to make sure France triumphs as your dream destination.

January

With the festivity and fun of the holiday season lingering in the air, there’s no better way to start the new year than on the stunningly elegant Champs-Élysées in Paris, gazing at fireworks over the Arc de Triomphe. This is where the French New Year’s Eve street party kicks off every year. You’ll also see French shop windows plastered with posters promoting the hotly anticipated winter sales (soldes). Whether you prefer to browse the tiny French designer boutiques selling unique one-offs or dash by the bigger grand magasins, January is the best month for a French shopping spree.

Rainfall: 14 days

Temperature: 39.4°F (4°C)

New Year in Paris
New Year in Paris | © Yann Caradec / Flickr

February

If you’re hoping to arrange the best Valentine’s Day of your life, then you must visit France in February. While people tend to think Paris is the most romantic city in the world, France is home to another hidden gem. Tucked away in the Loire Valley is the tiny French village called Saint-Valentin, the ‘Village of Love’. During the annual Saint-Valentin Festival, the whole place is decked out with red roses. You can pin your love notes on the Tree of Vows or commemorate your love on the Tree of Eternal Hearts. A trip to Paris in February will still have you swooning, though the weather is often chilly.

Rainfall: 13 days

Temperature: 40.6°F (4.7°C)

Paris in winter
Paris in winter | © 12019 / Pixabay

March

The Dunkirk Carnival is one of the most unique festivals in the world so it’s definitely worth a visit if travelling to France in March. The streets are bursting with colour and teeming with people demanding ‘the herring they deserve’ as bundles of fish are tipped from a balcony. This bizarre annual carnival is always a whirlwind of fun. As you’ll notice from the umbrellas, March is a rainy month. In fact, locals have a saying: Il pleut des cordes (it’s raining ropes) for a poetically accurate take on the endless force of French rainfall. Despite the rain, there’s an upside with fewer crowds and shorter lines at museums and major landmarks.

Rainfall: 14 days

Temperature: 45.6°F (7.5°C)

Herring is thrown to crowds in Dunkirk
Herring is thrown to crowds in Dunkirk | © Marie-Lan Nguyen / WikiCommons

April

France is great to visit in April, especially around Easter, because the French celebrate this holiday with huge enthusiasm. It’s one of their most important religious festivals, so you’ll find a range of lively Easter markets and events. They sometimes have some rather unusual ways of celebrating this holiday though, especially in the town of Bessières. Every year, this town welcomes 10,000 people to make a giant omelette with no fewer than 40 cooks and 15,000 fresh eggs cracked into a four-metre pan. If you visit later on in the month, you’ll notice the weather starts to brighten up, with public gardens and parks bursting into blossom.

Rainfall: 14 days

Temperature: 50.2°F (9.9°C)

Visiting the gardens of France
Visiting the gardens of France | © 12019 / Pixabay

May

With the weather gearing up for summer, there are festivals kicking off throughout the country as the season gets underway. A particular highlight is the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, which attracts celebrities from all over the world. Instead of heading to the French capital in May and getting caught in a sudden downpour, you could opt for Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, nestled on the northwestern coast. It’s one of the most remarkable examples of medieval architecture and if you’re lucky, you’ll see the magnificent natural show where exceptionally high tides completely surround the island like a moat.

Rainfall: 12 days

Temperature: 56.8°F (13.6°C)

Mont-Saint-Michel
Mont-Saint-Michel | © Ridoe / Pixabay

June

The highlight of travelling to France in June is soaking up the sunny outdoors. The Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival in the Loire Valley is particularly popular, often dubbed as the French version of the Chelsea Flower Show. While Paris might be a little busier than before, this shouldn’t put you off, as museums start their extended summertime hours to accommodate the extra tourists. The capital also has a great Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival on a small island on the Seine. If you missed the winter sales, fear not as shopping gets even better with the summer sales season.

Rainfall: 11 days

Temperature: 62.7°F (16.9°C)

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque | © Pixabay / Pexels

July

The most important festival in France takes place on July 14th, celebrating the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution. The occasion is marked by a massive parade, a string of lively firemen’s balls and free concerts, plus incredible fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. But there’s not just Paris, it’s also worth heading down south, for example, to Avignon. They hold an annual arts festival every summer in the courtyard of the Palais des Papes, one of the biggest performing arts festivals in the world. While you’re down in Southern France, make sure to drop by the coast and go for a boat ride as this is one of the warmest months of the year.

Rainfall: 11 days

Temperature: 66.8°F (19.2°C)

The French Riveria in summertime
The French Riveria in summertime | © AlwaysWanderlust / Pixabay

August

It only gets hotter in August and being one of the most popular times to soak up the French sun, it’s a great chance to explore outdoor festivals. The Chorégies d’Orange is a summer opera festival that takes place each August in Orange for the culture lovers. All performances are held in an ancient Roman theatre so it’s also a historic treat, one that’s been going on since 1860. The coast is the best place to be, though, as the weather is so glorious and almost tropical in places like Menton by the Italian border. In the mountainous regions, there can still be spring showers and chilly evenings, though.

Rainfall: 10 days

Temperature: 66.5°F (19°C)

Menton, France in peak summer
Menton, France in peak summer | © Daniel70mi Falciola / Flickr

September

In France, the grape harvests are well underway in September, always with a lively festival to follow. The country is buzzing with music like Jazz a Beaune or The Basque Country Music Festival. Each September welcomes the Braderie de Lille too, the largest flea market and brocante fair in the whole of France. However, one of the most unique festivals this month has something of a Spanish touch, as The Feria du Riz in Arles showcases local bullfighting traditions. If you’re after something calmer, it’s still beach weather down in Languedoc and in the French Riviera and castles still open their gates for you to wander around the grounds.

Rainfall: 11 days

Temperature: 61.5°F (16.3°C)

Grape harvesting in France
Grape harvesting in France | © skeeze / Pixabay

October

A visit to France can’t pass over its gastronomic excellence and October welcomes one of the world’s largest shows dedicated to chocolate, Le Salon du Chocolat in Paris. It invites sugar lovers to sample an innovative selection of its surprising forms alongside workshops and performances. If visiting later in the month, there are Halloween celebrations nothing short of magnificent, particularly at Disneyland Paris for awe-inspiring celebrations that kids and adults alike will adore. Make sure to bring warm layers, though, as temperatures begin to drop.

Rainfall: 13 days

Temperature: 54°F (12.2°C)

Eiffel Tower in October
Eiffel Tower in October | © daviddeolindo22 / Pixabay

November

The season for sipping coffee on French terraces until late during summer evening might well have reached its end in November, but do not despair. Armistice Day celebrations on November 11th take place beneath the Arc de Triomphe in the heart of Paris and there’s also Beaujolais Nouveau Day, marked in France on the third Thursday in November with fireworks, music and festivals to celebrate the new wine. There are about 120 Beaujolais Nouveau-related festivals held in the Beaujolais region with tasting contests, so it’s great for wine lovers. November is also a great season to find cheap flights.

Rainfall: 15 days

Temperature: 45.7°F (7.5°C)

Riquewihr, France
Riquewihr, France | © Russ Bowling / Flickr

December

With delicious Christmas markets offering gourmet tastings, festivities and fun across the country, December is a wonderful time to visit France. It’s spruced up with festive delights with luminous Noël decorations, festive food and music and you can discover the talent and skill of France’s artisan craft workers as well. The Christmas lights on the Champs-Élysées in Paris get switched on every year and visitors flock in from all over the world to admire its illuminations. It makes for dazzling photographs.

Rainfall: 15 days

Temperature: 40.7°F (4.8°C)

Paris Christmas Market
Paris Christmas Market | © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / WikiCommons

When not to go to France

French weather can be cold in early winter (December-early January) and rainy in early spring (March-early April), so these months are not favourites among most locals. The summer months are the best time of year to make the most of the beaches, parks and gardens.