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The best time to travel in France

It is possible to visit France and experience life à la française at any time of year. Be aware, however, that in August some of the shops close and the beaches in the south of the country get very busy. If you prefer skiing in the mountains, opt for the winter, and any other time outside this period if you plan to go hiking.

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France's temperate climate makes it a fairly pleasant country to visit all year round, though you do need to bear in mind that it can get very cold in winter, especially in the north and the east, and very hot in summer, particularly in the south. Many French people (and other Europeans) choose to holiday on the Mediterranean coast in August. This can make the price of accommodation particularly high at this time of year, and the most popular and well-known coastal resorts can get very busy. Shops more or less everywhere will be closed for the annual holidays too. So avoid August if you plan to go on a shopping spree!

The best time of year to visit France for a long weekend

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Visiting for long weekend gives you just the right amount of time to explore Paris or one of France's other large cities, and this is true no matter what the time of year. Avoid the month of August, however, when everywhere is either overcrowded or virtually deserted, depending on whether you go to one of the coastal resorts or not. December brings Christmas markets to visit and explore and opportunities to enjoy warm wine and/or gingerbread!

Best time of year for a festival tour

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France is host to an impressive number of festivals. It is possible to attend music festivals all year round, with a variety of completely different genres on offer: classical music at the La Folle Journée festival in Nantes, Baroque music, contemporary music, etc. In summer, in particular, you can find rock festivals taking place in almost every region of France: the Eurockéens in Belfort, the Vieilles Charrues in Brittany, Musilac in the South West, etc. And in addition to all that, there is also the famous Avignon theatre festival, the Angoulême International Comics Festival, cinema festivals, dance festivals, etc. In short, there's something to suit all tastes and all pockets!

The best time go on a skiing holiday to France

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If you are planning to go skiing in the Alps or the Pyrenees, opt for the winter months, which range from the beginning of December to the end of March. In the Jura, the Vosges and the Massif Central, on the other hand, the season ends earlier than this, but prices are lower. To ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a holiday in the snow, there are other activities in addition to skiing on offer at most French ski resorts.

Best time of year for winter sports in France

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If you are planning to hike any of the many walking routes in France's mountainous regions, the period from the end of April to mid-October is the best time of year to go, with spring and autumn particularly good as these are the periods when the trees, plants and flowers begin to change colour. If you are thinking of doing a hike such as the GR20 in Corsica, or any walks in the mid to high mountains, it is best to visit in June or at the beginning of September, when weather conditions are good and you will find less people around. If planning to participate in any outdoor activities (whitewater sports, rock climbing, etc.), visit between the end of March and the beginning of October to ensure you get good weather.

Best time to visit the French coast

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If you intend to take advantage of the beaches and the various water-based activities available along the Atlantic coast, visit between May and September. Though the water can be a little chilly at this time of year, it is still warm enough for sailing, surfing, waterskiing, etc. In the South of France, on the country's Mediterranean coast, it is possible to go bathing or diving in the sea from mid-April onwards, with temperatures already very pleasant at that time of year. In July, and especially in August, some of the beaches can get extremely busy.

Best time to go on a cultural holiday to France

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You can visit France at any time of the year if you are planning to explore the country's cultural heritage, art museums, historic monuments, sample the local cuisine, enjoy a wine tasting at a vineyard in Bordeaux, or explore the highways and byways of Paris. France's towns and cities, their ancient buildings, the country's châteaux, etc., are always interesting and exceptionally charming places to visit, no matter what the time of year.
Marielle Awad
62 contributions
Updated 26 October 2018