Late April to mid-June is the best time to visit France for fewer crowds and great weather. During this time, lavender blooms, ski slopes are accessible, and café terraces are open.
The spring “shoulder season” of late April to mid-June allows you to enjoy good weather while avoiding the summer season crowds. Meanwhile, more attractions are open, so you can still take advantage of all the top things to do in France.
After being a local of Paris, France for ten years, I’ve learned a lot about the best time to visit France. It all boils down to where you’re going and what you’re doing. In this guide, I break down everything you need to know.
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When is the Best Time to Visit France
I recommend visiting France between April and June for mild weather and fewer visitors at popular locations. Small businesses are still open, and you can see the countryside at its best.
But the best time to visit France depends on what you want out of your trip. Families traveling with small children don’t have the same needs as couples doing wine tastings! Different circumstances change the best time to visit France. Here’s everything you need to know for a wonderful time:
When to Visit France for Good Weather
You can visit most places in France in the late spring or early summer for good weather. However, good weather seasons can vary because France has different climate zones. In Northern France and Western France, the best weather is in July and August. In Eastern France and Southern France, the “shoulder seasons” of April-May and September-October have the best weather.
When to Visit France for Cheap Prices
The best time to visit France for cheap prices and good deals is in the low season. This includes the months of November through March, with exceptions in the last two weeks of December (the holiday season).
Depending on your travel goals, the trade-off of cheap prices for warmer weather can be worth it. You’ll find far fewer visitors. You may even spot winter sales after the holidays.
Ticket prices can be substantially lower at this time. For example, a nonstop round-trip economy plane ticket between Chicago and Paris for the last two weeks of December currently starts at $2,022. Leave in mid-January and that drops to $916.
When to Visit France for Sunny Beach Days
The summer is the best time to visit France for beach-goers to northern and Atlantic beaches. But note that these beaches may not be warm in July or even August, since the eastern and northern regions of France often have colder temperatures.
Farther south, along the Mediterranean coast, you’ll find very hot weather during mid-summer. April through mid-June is the best time to visit beaches in the southern parts of France.
When to Visit France for Families and Kids
Spring is the best time to visit France for families and kids. Outdoor activities are easiest to access this time of year.
You can still ski in April in the Alps. You can head to the South of France for great beach weather. You can also enjoy family-friendly activities and attractions without worrying about heat waves or major crowds.
When to Visit France to Avoid Crowds
Avoid crowds in France by coming during the low season. This includes the month of November and between January and March. Fewer people travel at this time, so, popular attractions are easier to access. But the weather is still mild in the South of France.
When to Visit France for Winter Sports
Fans of winter sports should come to France in winter or early spring. Resorts at very high altitudes, like Val d’Isère, may open as early as November. However, this depends on what the snowfall is each year.
Come in December, January, or February to ensure that you’ll have great weather for snow sports.
When to Visit France for Shopping
The best time for luxury shopping in France is before Christmas. The Christmas markets in cities like Strasbourg are charming. Meanwhile, window displays in Paris are beautiful.
Bargain shoppers should come in late January or June, though. This is when “soldes,” or sales, take place. The French government strictly enforces when stores can have sales, so these twice-yearly bargains are big events!
When to Visit France for Wine Tasting
Come to France in October or November for wine tastings. The French grape harvest generally runs from August to October. Because of this, it can be difficult to visit busy vineyards in late summer. This is especially true for producers of smaller local wines.
For a true celebration, come to France for the annual release of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine. Producers release this inexpensive wine on the third Thursday in November. Bars around France celebrate this in different ways. It can be a real party!
When to Visit France for Festivals
Summer is the festival season in France. The best festivals in France all happen between June and September. The Paris Jazz Festival runs for most of this time. The medieval town of Avignon puts on a performing arts festival in July. The musical festival at Carcassonne runs from the end of June to the end of July.
Many towns and cities also celebrate the French national holiday, July 14, with fanfare. Even though this isn’t an official “festival,” these celebrations date back to the French Revolution!
France Travel Seasons
Spring weather is mild to warm in France: expect temperatures ranging from the 40s to the 60s (Fahrenheit). Fewer travelers visit France during this time, making it easier to plan your itinerary and access major attractions with smaller crowds.
May is a busy month and an excellent time to come to France. Cultural activities ramp up. Spring is also when the world-famous Cannes Film Festival takes place.
Cultural events are in full swing in the fall. Art galleries re-open as museums and cinemas launch new programs.
Autumn brings fall foliage colors and cooler temperatures. The chilly days make heavier French dishes, like coq au vin, more appealing.
Winter is a great time to visit France for fewer visitors and sports like skiing and snowboarding. Winter is particularly charming in the French Alps.
You’ll find holiday cheer in major cities. Shopping in Paris is especially spectacular at Christmas. Later in the winter, the Nice carnival and its flowers provide the perfectly bright antidote to dull days!
Just note that traveling in December can be expensive. Also, some important monuments and stores close over the holidays. It’s best to compare multiple itineraries before booking.
The summer months are France’s peak season. Expect summer crowds for festivals and sporting events, including the French Open. The southern half of France is particularly beautiful during the summer. It’s lavender season in Provence!
Lastly, know that the French go on vacation starting in mid-July. Avoid major cities until early autumn. Specifically, avoid visiting Paris in August due to local business closures.
France Weather and Climate (By Region)
The center of France benefits from the best of continental and oceanic climates. Expect short winters with a few very cold days. Meanwhile, summers can get very hot. Recent years have seen heat waves and intense weather.
Humidity can be high in Central France, usually between 70 and 90%. But winds are mostly light.
The climate of Northern France varies. It’s temperate in the center. In the west-central region, you’ll find a cooler and rainier Atlantic climate. In the east, you’ll find a milder and more continental climate.
The south of France has a Mediterranean climate. It gets very hot in summer, but the area has milder weather in winter. Perfect weather is easiest to find here in spring and fall.
You’ll find less humidity here than in other French regions. It can be windy, though, particularly in the southwest.
The west of France has an oceanic climate. Winters offer fairly temperate weather, with temperatures ranging from 43 to 46 F. But it doesn’t get too hot, either. Temperatures range from 66 to 70 F in late summer.
The west of France is fairly humid due to its Atlantic coast. It is also rather windy, as winds from the southwest move north.
Expect a continental climate in Eastern France. Winters are cold and summers are hot. The April-May season is the best time to explore the natural beauty of this area.
Provence, in the southeast, has strong winds. However, humidity is comfortable, and the region gets less humid as you move south.
Tips for Visiting France
Aim for a Shoulder Season
The shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October are both reasonably priced. These seasons are also more comfortable for travel. You’ll find far fewer crowds in popular locations and the weather is mild to warm in most regions.
Avoid Paris Fashion Week
August is the worst time to visit Paris. But after that, Paris Fashion Weeks are good to avoid. These events take place in early March and late September/early October. Prices skyrocket. Popular attractions become unbearably crowded. And it’s hard to get restaurant reservations.
Plan for Temperature Variations
Temperatures in France can change dramatically in a single day. This is true even in the famously warm South of France, where nights can be cold. Pack layers, including at least one sweater or light jacket, even in summer. Small umbrellas are also useful since they can be expensive here!
Schedule Around National Holidays
You’d be amazed at how national holidays affect France, particularly in smaller towns and villages. Most small businesses close, which can make it difficult even to eat! National holidays in France are different from American holidays. French holidays include several Catholic celebrations.
Schedule Ski Holidays Carefully
Ski season normally runs from December to April, with longer seasons at higher altitudes. However, check the weather as thoroughly as you can before booking your holiday. France has seven main mountain ranges in different regions, and the weather can vary significantly.
FAQs About When to Visit France
When is the high season in France?
The high season in France is summer. July and August are the peak season for travel in France, and the most expensive times to visit.
What is the best month to go to France?
The best month to go to France is June. Come early to see spring flowers and watch as lavender grows in the rolling hills of Provence.
What is the cheapest time of year to visit France?
Where is the best weather in France?
The best weather in France is in southern France, particularly along the French Riviera. You can expect warm weather and blue skies here even in the winter season.
I hope you found my guide to the best time to visit France helpful! Although the best time to visit is between April and June, there are fun places to visit in France all year round.
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