When to Visit France

by SmarterTravel Staff

France is a four-season destination that attracts visitors year-round. The most popular time to go is during the warm summer months and international holidays. Those who visit during the other seasons will enjoy fewer crowds, a wider range of lodging options, and lower prices.

  • high season: May to September
  • low season: December to March
  • shoulder season: April, October to November

December through March is the low season in many places like Paris, but ski areas see an increase in tourism and consider this their high season.

Weather Information

Overall, France enjoys a pleasant and temperate climate, but microclimates in some regions can cause variations in temperature from town to town. Four different climatic zones experience diverse weather throughout the country. The Atlantic and Channel coasts are characterized by an oceanic climate with high humidity and cooler summers, while Paris and the central regions experience an intermediate climate with relatively cold winters and warm summers. Alsace, Lorraine, the Rhône corridor, and the massifs see frigid winters and hot summers brought on by a semi-continental climate, while the south of France enjoys a mediterranean climate with calm winters and scorching summers.

Crowd Information

May through September is the busiest time to visit due to warm weather and school vacations. Valentine's Day, when visitors flock to France in search of romance, is also quite popular. Sporting events such as the Tour de France, Formula 1, and tennis championships can attract large crowds as well.

Closure Information

Most shops and businesses close for public holidays, particularly New Year's Day, Labor Day (May 1), WWII Victory Day (May 8), Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Bastille Day (July 14), Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15), All Saints Day (November 1), Armistice Day (November 11), and Christmas. Some restaurants and small shops in Paris and elsewhere may close for part or all of August, when residents take their annual vacations. Most museums shut their doors to the public on Tuesdays, and some restaurants may close on Sundays or Mondays.

When to Save

Discounts are offered year-round; however prices may be more expensive during the high season and holiday periods.

Information provided by the French Government Tourist Office.

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