Best time to visit France

temperature & rainfall

The best time to visit France depends on what you want to do when you’re there: Nov-April is the winter season, the optimum time for skiing and snowshoeing and a key period for mountain sports; late May and June are France’s spring, a temperate time for walking when the incredible spring flowers are in full bloom – the Pyrenees alone has 800 different species of orchid; and refuge trekking across lofty terrain reaches fever pitch in mid-July when the snow has cleared and the risk of avalanche is minimal. If you’re heading to the coast, May to July are your best bet.

When to visit France & when not to

a month by month guide

In the mountains, December, January, February and March are smack bang in the middle of winter - now’s the time to grab your cross country skis and snowshoes and ramp up the adrenalin with all manner of winter sports. Do book well ahead if planning a Christmas or Easter break, though.

Spring hiking is idyllic in the Pyrenees - but remember that at these altitudes, 'spring' actually begins in early June, with snow remaining throughout April and even into May, blocking paths

April and May do offer some of the best weather along the chic Riviera though, with the summer heat starting to kick in at the end of June.

July and August are pricier, busier and uncomfortably hot for hiking and cycling, unless you're in the fresher mountain regions. Roads are also congested in August, lengthening journey times, and many French vacationmakers will be heading to the coast.

October and November wash France’s bucolic countryside in a swathe of warm colours – golds, greens, reds and browns specifically. The further south you go, the later winter will kick in. They’re also great for walking and cycling with comfortable temperatures in the south (mountains aside) and fewer crowds – don’t forget your camera!

Responsible Travel recommends


Chloe Knott, from our supplier Exodus, shares her advice on the best time to visit France: “The weather in France starts to improve from May through to September and if you go either side of that towards the mountains there will be snow and around the coast it will be quite miserable, unless you’re heading much further south in which case it’s pleasant from March onwards. An accurate rule of thumb is to visit the coastal resorts from late March through to October and if you’re heading into the mountains, head out a bit later in May, that way you’ll get the least rain and the lightest hours, so long walking days and generally better weather for any outdoor activities you may want to try.”

Festivals & events


Did you know about...?

Pelerinage des Gitans
May sees hundreds of Roma Gitano gypsies descend upon the tiny village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue all in the name of Sara, the patron saint of the Gitans, who fled there from the Holy Land in medieval times, whom they celebrate with a flamboyant fiesta of dancing in the streets, music and general merriment for three whole weeks.
Photo credits: [Rt recommends: Tommie Hansen] [Pelerinage des Gitans: Fiore S. Barbato]
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