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Best Time to Visit France | When to Go & Travel Tips

Best Time to Visit France | When to Go & Travel Tips

Visiting France is a must for any international traveler, but it’s important to go at the right time of year to fully enjoy it. See the best time to visit France, along with the cheapest, least busy, and worst times to go here in our travel guide.

We’ll show you why France is worth visiting – like you needed convincing – and share helpful tips to make your French trip simply magnifique! Find out the perfect time to plan your visit and everything you need to know to make it an unforgettable journey below. 

Why You Should Visit France

There’s something truly special about France. You’ll find lively, romantic cities bustling with activity, stunning architecture steeped in history, delectable, award-winning food and wine.

But you’ll also find collections of the world’s most respected and renowned art, and idyllic countryside dotted with vineyards, rolling hills, and villages here.

Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe at night during the Summer, the best time to visit France

Catarina Belova/Shutterstock

Home to cities like Paris (the capital and most populous city), Nice, Marseille, Bordeaux, Cannes, and Lyon, France has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing and cultural tourism.

See some of the world’s most famous examples of architecture and landmarks here, from the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe to the Palace of Versailles and Château de Fontainebleau. And that’s just scratching the surface! 

History and art lovers will find no better place to tour than France, which is home to more than 1,200 museums.

France’s museums are filled with historic artifacts and famous paintings, sculptures, and works of art that still thrill the world after hundreds or thousands of years.

Visitors especially flock to France’s first and most popular museum — the Louvre in Paris — to the tune of more than more than 10 million visitors annually. Here you’ll find world-famous art pieces like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the towering Venus de Milo.

But France’s appetite for culture and art extends far beyond the Louvre, including 130+ museums in Paris and thousands more scattered throughout places like Marseille, Lyon, Lens, and Saint-Tropez. 

The Louvre pictured with its glass roof in the shape of a triangle on a cloudy day

lapas77/Shutterstock

France’s food and wine scene is unparalleled, especially if you’re fond of fine dining. The country is home to 3o restaurants awarded the coveted 3 Michelin Stars, which indicates the highest quality, taste, and presentation.

Blends of Spanish, Italian, German, Swiss, and Belgian flavors have influenced French cuisine over centuries to create the unique flavor profiles and dishes the country is known for today.

French staples include savory boeuf bourguignon (braised beef stew with red wine and hearty vegetables) and coq au vin (braised chicken and mushrooms in a red wine sauce) based on France’s famous red wines.

Delicious desserts are always on the menu, and visitors have to try classics like the irresistibly puffy chocolate soufflé and the crunchy-custard of crème brûlée. 

A bunch of French food on white plates on a fancy table below a bottle of wine

momo2050/Shutterstock

It’s easy to get caught up in the metropolitan side of France with the mix of upscale and unique shops, restaurants, museums, and landmarks to take in.

But don’t forget about the idyllic countryside and tucked-away villages, which show a different side of France filled with picturesque old world charm.

Castles and cottages, sprawling vineyards, rolling hills, country lanes and cobblestone roads, and sweet-smelling flowers in bloom will delight you in the French countryside.

Make time to tour the outskirts of the cities and swing through villages like Chinon, Hautvillers, Aigues-Mortes, Cassel, and storybook-like Kaysersberg. Taste the local wines, cheeses, and sweets as you tour the countryside! 

This is just a peek at the sights, tastes, and experiences that await you in France.

Let’s take a look at the best time to visit France next for your specific trip goals. Whether you’re looking for the best time to go overall, the cheapest, the least busy, or just the time of year to avoid France, we’ve got you covered!

Overall Best Time to Visit France

Awesome view of the unique and historic town square in Eguisheim during the best time to visit France

Canadastock/Shutterstock

  • June-August is the overall best time to visit France
  • Perfect weather, flowers in bloom, and bustling activity
  • Expect crowds and peak season prices

If you want the ideal French experience, the best time to visit France is from June to August. The summer season is when the country springs to life with tons of tourists arriving to enjoy the perfect weather for sightseeing and exploring the countryside.

Rates are higher during the peak season as you might expect, but if you can swing the higher prices, it’s truly worth it to go to experience a summer in France. Expect moderate, warm temperatures in the low-to-upper 70s from June to August.

Rainfall is average, just enough to keep the country cool. August is the driest month of the year and one of the best times to plan your visit as summer begins to transition to fall.

France is absolutely bustling with tourists and activities in the summer, so you’ll find lots of things to do outside of the usual sightseeing and dining out.

Sunbathe and swim on the coastal beaches, take a stroll or scenic drive through the countryside (sampling wines and cheeses along the way), take in a free outdoor movie or concert, or join in Bastille Day celebrations with fireworks and parades in mid-July. 

July and August are when Europeans typically vacation, so expect the French Riviera, Dordogne, the Alps, and Brittany coast to be packed with vacationing French families.

Elsewhere, you might find cities and villages buzzing with activity but a little less hectic as many are off on summer adventures of their own!

Cheapest Time to Visit France

For a piece on the least expensive time to visit France, aerial view of farmlands and countryside in Brittany

Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock

  • November-February is the cheapest time to visit France
  • Winter tourism is less popular, so prices drop
  • Cooler temps, snow, and winter events make it special

The best time to visit France on a budget is from November to February, which covers the winter months and low season here.

While it’s never going to be “cheap” to visit France, you’ll find the best deals and rates on flights, hotels, and attractions during the winter when tourism hits the lowest point of the year. 

Expect temperatures around 50F in November and near 35-46F during December to February. It’s chilly, but not frigid. That makes it pretty suitable for sightseeing as long as you layer and bundle up!

The colder temperatures in winter are a perfect excuse to stop into a local café for a warm, hearty meal. Skiing and snow sports are perfect activities for visiting France in the winter, but it’s going to be pricy and not a great fit for a budget-friendly vacation.

If you really want to hit the slopes in the French Alps, go in early to mid-December or January to score the best prices. During the winter, you’ll find lots of events and celebrations taking place throughout France.

In December, check out Christmas markets and light displays throughout the country, Le Salon Nautique de Paris boat show, and Fete de St-Sylvestre New Year’s Eve feast which typically features fireworks, concerts, and food in France’s cities. 

If you visit in February or March, you’ll be able to see the hustle and bustle of Paris’ Fashion Week.

Designers, models, and spectators arrive in droves to spot the upcoming season’s styles and fashions. This makes flight and hotel prices higher around Paris during Fashion Week, so make sure to book before or after this event to score the cheapest prices. 

Least Busy Time to Visit France

Chambord Castle pictured on a sunny day during the least busy time to visit France

Mistervlad/Shutterstock

  • April-May, September-November are the least busy times to go
  • Smaller shoulder season crowds mean you’ll experience the “real” France
  • Cheaper rates on flights and rooms are common during these periods

The best time to visit France without the major crowds of summer is April to May (the spring shoulder season) and September to November (the fall shoulder season).

These less-crowded periods are perfect for seeing France as a local, plus you’ll be able to take advantage of cheaper rates while the crowds are light!

Visiting France in spring has its perks – it’s mildly warm in the upper 50s to upper 60s, pretty calm, and colorful wildflowers are bursting into bloom all over the country. You’ll see swathes of yellow colza in the north and sprouting red poppies in the south.

Everything is lush and green in the countryside, and the vineyards are budding their grapes. May weekends are busy as events and celebrations start to stack up throughout the country.

But you’ll find that weekdays are pretty calm and quiet until the start of June in much of France. April and May are gorgeous times to go, but slightly busier than the fall months.

Visiting France in the fall will net you even smaller crowds, which makes for better sightseeing and relaxation. Spot the last of the sunflowers, newly golden vineyards, and fall foliage colors from September to November.

You’ll be here in time for cooler temperatures (highs anywhere from 70F in September to 50F in November) that make walking and touring the cities comfortable, as well as strolling the countryside. 

Check out autumn festivals and celebrations in the cities and villages during the fall for a special treat as the temperatures cool off ahead of winter. 

Worst Time to Visit France

Sandy beach pictured during the worst time to visit France in the old town of Menton

Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit France isn’t really a single period or season – there are special benefits for visiting at anytime of year.

The worst time to visit really depends on what you’re going to see, do, or experience. Take a look below to see when you should avoid going to France:

  • If you’re hoping for perfect weather, the worst time to visit is May and October-February. May and October are the rainiest months of the year in France, and that’s a problem for sightseeing, sunbathing, and countryside tours. From November to February, temperatures take a nosedive throughout France with lows around 35F and highs that struggle to reach 46F. Go during April or June-August for ideal weather that’s more suitable for getting out and enjoying the country. 
  • If you’re going on a budget or want to avoid major crowds, the worst time to visit is June through August. This is the summer peak season in France and you’ll run into higher prices and longer lines for everything from flights and hotels to attraction passes and food. It’s a great time of year to go, but not if you’re trying to stick to modest budget or steer clear of the biggest crowds. Go in April-May or September-February for fewer crowds and lower prices. 
  • If you want to experience France at its best, the worst time to go is from November to February. The winter months are chilly (snowy in the French Alps and Pyrenees mountain regions) and fewer tourists come to the country at this time of year. You’ll find that some of the picturesque provençal villages are shuttered during the winter months as the weather gets cold and dreary. Go during June to August for better weather and more activities to enjoy. 

More Things to Consider

Hilltop view of French Riviera coast with Villefranche sur Mer pictured during the best time to visit France

Balate Dorin/Shutterstock

You know the best time to visit France and when not to go. What else should you know to make the most of your trip to France? Take a look at our best travel tips to experience the full enjoyment of France!

  • Experience upscale French dining. Formal cooking techniques, classic dishes with fresh, simple flavors, and beautiful plate presentation make French dining an exciting experience for visitors with a refined palate. While you’re in France, make sure to dine at one of the fine restaurants near you. If your budget can swing it, you’ll enjoy sampling the top tasting menu at a 2- or 3-Michelin Star restaurant. Expect the bill to be in the $250-$400 range, which is either ridiculous or well worth it depending on your budget. 
  • Do try French street food. While fine dining is delectably delicious, it’s not the only way to experience the gastronomical delights in France. Street food is easily accessible throughout the cities in France, cheaper than upscale dining, and a great way to sample interesting twists on some of the country’s most respected dishes. Try parmesan truffle fries (pommes frites), filled crepes, gelato, candied chestnuts, and jambon beurre (buttered ham sandwiches) as you stroll the cities of France. 
  • Explore beyond Paris. While visiting France seems to be synonymous with going to Paris, this country has a lot to offer beyond its capital. Paris is home to many of the best museums, restaurants, shops, and hotels in the country, but you’ll get a better look at the real France (and likely cheaper prices) by venturing out into other cities and villages. Check out Bordeaux, Montpellier, Lyon, and Nice to get the French city experience without the high price tag of Paris. Smaller, charming villages in the east, near the coasts, and in the central heart of France offer beautiful views for a different experience. 
  • Bring an adaptor for devices. France uses 2 types of 230V electrical outlets: C (accepts 2 round pins) and E (accepts  2 round pins and a grounding pin). You’ll need an adaptor for your devices if you want to keep everything charged while you’re visiting! They’re easy to find and relatively cheap on Amazon, or you can purchase one when you arrive. 
  • Learn the language – or some of it, at least. You won’t be expected to be fluent like a local, but you’ll have an easier time in France if you’re familiar with some common words and phrases in the French language. It’s polite to greet anyone you speak with using “Bonjour,” then follow up with your question or comment. Make use of translation apps on your phone while you’re exploring France, but make sure to learn some of the phrases and questions you expect to use often. Here’s a good list of words and phrases to know before you go. 
  • Don’t dress like a tourist. Tourists are notoriously targeted for pick-pocketing and scams abroad, so you can help avoid being the victim of a petty crime by not dressing like a tourist. Flip flops off the beach, leggings/yoga pants, team shirts, ball caps, and shorts will set you apart as a tourist and may prevent you from entering upscale establishments. Dress in solid colors with well-fitting classic pieces to blend in and look chic in France. 
  • Get to know the regions of France. France is divided into several regions, each with its own specialty foods and wines, landmarks, landscapes, and history. Before you go, check out the different regions of France and find out which ones will earn a spot on your trip itinerary. Will you go up into the French Alps, stroll the Mediterranean coast, or venture deep into the historic heart of France? Maybe visiting vineyards or touring massive old chateaus is on your list. If your trip will be longer, you may be able to tour the entire country with a well-planned itinerary!

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit France?

Eiffel tower at sunrise with the River Seine pictured in the background for a piece on the best time to visit Paris

Frederick Millett/Shutterstock

Overall, the best time to visit France is during the summer, from June to August. This is when you’ll find the ideal weather for sightseeing and touring the countryside, few rainy days, and lots of activities and events to keep you busy.

France’s beaches, mountainous regions, cities, and countryside are all at their best in summer!

The Cheapest Time to Visit

The best time to visit France on a budget is during November to February, when winter’s chill keeps many tourists away and prices drop as a result. Highs from the upper 30s to the low 50s dominate the forecast in winter, with the higher elevations and eastern areas being the coldest.

There are lots of winter holiday events, celebrations, and festivals to enjoy (and it’s the perfect time for skiing if it fits your budget). 

The Least Busy Time to Visit

The best time to visit France without major crowds is during the spring and fall shoulder seasons, which are April-May and September-November.

You’ll find fewer fellow tourists are out and about at these times of year, which makes for better sightseeing and enjoying a laid-back tour of the countryside in spring flowers or autumn colors. Weather is generally mild and comfortable, if a bit chilly at times, during the shoulder seasons.

The Worst Time to Visit

Pay attention to the times to avoid France, which really depend on your personal goals for the trip. If you want perfect weather, you’ll find May and October-February too rainy and cold for your tastes.

If you want small crowds and a budget-friendly trip, June-August will be too crowded and expensive. For a “best all around” trip that’s great for sightseeing, exploring the countryside, and checking out the coasts, don’t go in winter, or November-February.

Final Thoughts

France is full of history, art, architecture, and picturesque settings in the villages and vineyards throughout the countryside. Any international traveler with a desire to see the world has to visit France to see the iconic landmarks, idyllic landscapes, and taste the world-famous foods and wines here.

Brush up on your French, plan out an itinerary ahead of time, and get ready to experience the fullness of France on your next trip! Check out these other guides next to start planning your trip to France: