Are you going to France for the beaches? Wine? To sightsee? Take pictures for the gram in front of the Elysees? Whichever one of these reasons is yours, read on as we share the different times of the year that are great for enjoying them.
So what is the best time to visit France? The best time to visit France is between April and June, and from September to December. This is due to the sharp drop in ticket and accommodation prices, fair weather, and low tourist turnout!
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The Best Time to Visit France
You are going to France to sightsee? Go in May and September. The shoulder season assures you of mild weather conditions and a small crowd. This is true of all of France except Paris, a city that is always in season, in demand, and busy. To enjoy Paris without the crowd, you would have to forgo the mild weather and dress for the chill of late October. No, you cannot have it all.
You are there for the beaches? Want to show off that summer body you worked all year for? The turquoise blue waters of the South of France are best enjoyed from June to September. The warm weather means you can dunk in, walk around in your bikinis and shorts without fear of catching a cold. You would, however, have to do this alongside a very large crowd which will not start thinning out till mid-September. From as early as April till late in October, you can take long walks on the beach with friends, a lover, or just your thoughts and imaginations.
For the wine connoisseurs, France’s wineries and their offerings are best indulged in in May and June, alongside a large crowd, or in September and October, with a far smaller crowd, great weather, and a chance to watch the vines being harvested. There are also wine-designated festivals like the La Percée du Vin Jaune and the Bordeaux Wine Festival.
Shopping in France is best done from mid-January to mid-February and from mid-June till mid-August. This periods are marked by large-scale winter and summer sales; a shopaholic’s heaven. It is a good time to get items, especially fashion pieces, at bargain prices. Winter sales are great if you do not mind the cold, want to avoid crowds, and incur low accommodation expenses.
France’s Tourist Seasons
The ebb and flow of people into France is seasonal with three (3) major divisions: the high, shoulder, and low seasons. The high season lasts from mid-June to August, and from mid-December till January. It is a period characterised by lots of sunshine, a large crowd, and high prices for accommodation and other things. If you decide to visit France during the high season, book your rooms well in advance.
The shoulder season, the best time to visit to France, lasts from April till June, and makes a brief comeback from September to October.Relatively fewer tourists visit France at this time. So you can enjoy the gentle weather, sites, sights, and copious accommodation choices. This period does not apply to Paris though. In Paris, the most synonymous time falls between late February and March and from October till mid-November.
Have you ever wished that you could get a new stuff without paying hundreds of dollars for it? Then head to France during the low season. This lasts from November till March, sans holidays. You get to walk through lovely Paris in the snow while hunting and finding many bargains on accommodation, clothing, food, and more. So long you do not mind the cold, you are in for a great time and a chance to watch the locals without the clutter of too much tourists.
France Weather Month By Month
This will be answered using four (4) broad regions which house France’s many tourist attractions: the northeast, South of France, Paris, and the Atlantic coastal region.
Alsace/Northeast France: This region, which includes Alsace, spends January with temperatures ranging from 3°C to 6°C during the day. That’s really cold, yea? So be a boy scout, be prepared! Pack for winter as you prepare to spend quality time in the region as you would have to contend with rainfall, snowfall, and 9 days of condensation. There would be sunny days but these would be far between. You get to see snow-covered Alsace though, and that is a beautiful sight.
P.S: Don’t forget to take that HD camera along as the region is really picturesque in the winter months.
Paris: With an average temperature of 7°C (daytime) and 3°C (night), Paris in January is a chilly and dreary place. However, cold as it gets (freezing sometime, right? But this is Paris. With these, an hour of sunshine, alongside the high chances of rain (14 days of precipitation), it is important that you are well-kitted: thick clothes, socks, mittens or gloves, a head warmer, sweaters, and water-proof shoes. Leave nothing out that would not let you enjoy your stay as well as you should.
Atlantic France: Ever wished that you could winter in France but not have to worry about freezing your toes off? Wish you could enjoy your vacation without the hustle and bustle of tourists filling everywhere? Yes, yes I hear you say to both questions. Well then, say hello to the Atlantic region in January. With an average temperature of 13°C and 12 days of precipitation, this region is warmer than the afore-discussed two. It enjoys year-round mild weather with the coldest month being January. Take along wind and waterproof clothing, a muffler, and a cap if you decide to visit.
Southern France: The beaches in the South of France empty out but not completely in January as the usually mild weather becomes slightly chilly. You can take walks or have a quick run/jog on the beach but, with the water temperature at 13°C, swimming is totally off the table (except you are a Yeti, of course). Daytime temperature usually peaks at 13°C but can fall to 9°C and as low as 5°C at night. You also will have to deal with sudden rainfall (8 days of precipitation), so as you pack your clothing, camera, and whatnots, add an umbrella. If an uncrowded beach is your thing, this is the time to visit.
Alsace/Northeast France: The region is still chilly with daytime temperature of 8°C which can fall to as low as a toe-freezing -2°C. Chances of sunlight are low but so is rainfall as precipitation drops to about 30mm over 8 days. Be mentally prepared for dark days, dreary weather, and make sure you pack right. One delight you can look forward to is soaking in a hot tub as you try to banish the cold under your skin. Pure bliss!
Paris: February in Paris is like January in Paris: cold, grey, with relatively higher chance of snow and erratic rainfall. Precipitation lasts for over 13 days. Temperature during the day hovers at 8°C, with days of freezing and sub-zero weather. Take an umbrella (sturdy ones), pack clothing that can be layered (3 layers at least), a hat that would also protect your ears from the cold, and an upbeat attitude because you will really need it.
Atlantic France: No significant change in temperature from last month but there is a sharp drop in the amount of rainfall and more sunshine! Yippee! The nights remain cold but they are not full of terrors, so do not do away with your winter boots, gloves, and clothing just yet, keep wearing them layered. Temperatures range from 7°C to 9°C, not too cold for walks as long as you are bundled up.
Southern France: Winter is still here but there are no nightwalkers. With daytime temperatures ranging from 10°C to 13°C, and 6°C a night, you can go out on dates, walks, shopping, but definitely no skinny dipping in the sea, yet. This period also sees a lot of rainfall over a 6-day period. As with the other regions, pack for winter: comfortable clothing that can be layered, waterproof boots, gloves, caps, and an umbrella.
Alsace/Northeast France: March marks the beginning of spring. The weather starts warming up, temperatures start nudging towards the 15°C-17°C mark, and sunny days become a norm and not a rarity. It also is the prelude to a change of wardrobe as you, day by day, slowly shed off the Eskimo look for shorts, tees, and sandals. Do not do away with your winter clothes just yet as temperatures can still fall as low as 2°C, with over 8 days of precipitation and a chance of snowfall.
Paris: In Paris, March ushers in a significant increase in temperature. Spring is here and temperatures during the day hover around 12°C with little or no snow. Hold on to your umbrella and wet weather gear though as there is more rainfall over a 14-day period. You can visit and watch as Paris slowly comes out of hibernation, shakes off its winter lethargy, and opens its arms to the steady inflow of tourists.
Atlantic France: The relatively warm climate of this region becomes significantly warmer in March. With daytime temperatures reaching and, sometimes, surpassing 12°C as the month goes on, the dreary and grey days give way to sunshine-filled, rainy, and windy days. Keep an ear out for the weather report and dress appropriately because the air is still chilly. Have your warm coat handy but do not be afraid of packing that t-shirt, ripped jeans, and a few other warm weather clothing.
Southern France: in March, temperatures stand at a suitably warm 15°C. This will go as high as 20°C as March gives way to April. The weather is noticeably warmer with a bit of rainfall, and the hours of daylight become longer. That means more time outdoor than huddling up in a room. Does this mean it is time to swim? No! The weather and the sea are still way too cold for that but do not let that stop you from enjoying other activities the region offers. Have your handy umbrella ready though for the short but brief rainfalls.
Alsace/Northeast France: Spring is now in full bloom and we are looking more at summer than we are feeling the chill of winter. The air is crisp and has a slight hint of growing plants and thawing soil. April showers are a common feature and temperatures hover between 10°C and 16°C. There is a 13 percent chance of rainfall, so pack for both sunny days and cool, wet days. You know what? Put in your umbrella first and maybe a book or two.
Paris: Paris is coming back alive and you should go see it happen. Temperatures are now in the upper range of the 13°C-17°C spectrum, and 7°C at night, up from the freezing conditions of the last three months. Temperatures reaching as high as the mid-20s are not unheard of, so bring both warm and cool weather gear. Though not heavy, there will be about 14 days of rainfall.
Atlantic France: Windy, sunny, and rainy days are common features of April in this region. The weather is cool but pleasant with temperatures ranging from 11°C to 15°C. 11 days of rain mean your bag must contain an umbrella, waterproof shoes and jackets, and others thig=ng that would make your stay nice, comfortable, and great as you go to a place with both warm and cool weather to create life-long memories.
Southern France: Spring and a spring to your step as the south of France opens itself up to a steady inflow of tourists in hats. This is because the high amount of sunny days make it a great time to visit the south of France. Temperatures range from 13°C to 17°C but that is not the great news. The sea is finally getting warm enough to be swum! Just a little wait left. Temperatures can fall to 10°C, so do not throw your sweater and jackets away just yet.
Alsace/Northeast France: Temperatures are usually in the upper 20s, with an average temperature of 22°C and lots of warm days in the second half of the month. The freezing conditions become a thing of the past and the first thunderstorms start rumbling past. If you choose this time to visit the region, make sure you have a handy umbrella, a warm coat, and sunny weather wears. Try as much as you can to arrive halfway through the month.
Paris: Paris in May is more than a wonderful sight as summer peeks around the corner and designers, artists, and artistes prepare shows and other events for the period. The days usually start at 20°C and can rise as high as 24°C as the day wears on. Rainfall is a low possibility but there would be the occasional thunderstorm. What to pack? A mix of clothing for both cool and warm weather, trendy sunglasses, and your love for fun.
Atlantic France: With temperatures hovering between 18°C and 22°C during the day, 11°C at night, a sharp drop in the wind, a few days of rain, and warm, sunny days, May is as good a time as any to visit the Atlantic region. Do not come unprepared, my (wo)man. Bring along an eclectic collection of clothes, including a jacket and thick socks, as the region is now warm but still holds a bit of spring chill.
Southern France: At 18°C, the sea is still too cold for a swim but the sharp increase in tourists marks the beginning of another busy season. The seasonably warm weather takes hold with daytime temperatures that hover around 20°C and may climb higher on some days. There will be short rainfalls, which are more like showers than downpours actually. Layered dressing is still the norm but you can also pack for those days the sun is out in force. Much as you can’t swim in the sea, you can chill by the beach.
Alsace/Northeast France: June here is summer time. Get out your Hawaiian tees, Bermuda shorts, sandals, as you take full advantage of the 25°C weather, sunny days, and the occasional rainfall. There will be chilly 12°C days too, so pack an umbrella, sweater, and jacket as you fold your shorts and tees in your bag. The jackets will come in handy in the evenings which is when the temperature usually drops.
Paris: The best time to visit Paris is June. Lots of colours, a diverse crowd, warm and sunny weather, and temperatures in the upper 20s during the day and 14°C at night combine to make Paris in June tourists’ favourite destination. If you plan on visiting at this time, pack for the chill too as Paris has recorded freezing conditions right in the middle of June. They are rare but do not let yourself be caught unawares. An umbrella will also come in handy for when the thunderstorms come and go.
Atlantic France: Temperatures here still hover between 18°C and 21°C with an average night temperature of 14°C. The area also gets about 8 hours of sunshine -a third of the whole day- and light rainfall. If you decide to visit, go heavy on light clothing and a jacket or sweater for the slightly cooler nights.
Southern France: Finally, you can take a quick dip in the sea but not longer than that. Daytime temperatures are usually in the upper 20s and come with a slight breeze and lots of sun. You can also now pack a swimsuit to your trunk, right beside your shorts, tees, and jacket. Be ready to share the beach with a very large crowd as people flood into the South of France to breath in the clean air, build sand castles, and create Kodak moments.
Alsace/Northeast France: Summer is in full swing and it is all laughs and sunshine. Daytime temperatures range from 20°C to 27°C, and 13°C at night. The chill is gone and you would have more need for summer wear than your jackets. However, pack the jackets still as the temperature drops sharply at night.
Paris: Paris gets warmer in July with temperatures reaching 25°C and climbing as high as 30°C in the afternoons. The nights are also noticeably less cool at 16°C. You have to look out for the occasional thunderstorms and short but heavy rainfall. Pack like you would in June, though you may go heavier on light clothing. Make sure you are camera-ready, you just might pass by one of your fav celebs who is open to a quick selfie.
Atlantic France: Warm weather, large crowds, maximum day and night time temperatures of 24°C and 16°C respectively, and light rainfall (if any) are the hallmarks of July in this part of France. It is the hottest time of the year in this region, so you need to pack some sunscreen, a summer hat, fabric that breathe, and warm weather clothing. Throw in a sweater just in case the evenings are too cool for you.
Southern France: Throw your shirts into the wind and cool off in the sea which is now an acceptable 23°C. There is a marked increase in the temperatures. The weather is usually so hot, sometimes well past 30°C. With such heat, it really is fortunate that the sea has warmed up enough for more than just a quick dip. Rainfall is light and far between during this period, so the umbrella is no more the must-have it used to be. In addition, the evenings, at 20°C, are not chilly anymore, so you can forgo the sweater as you pack. Do not stint on sunscreen, a hat, and light, free, sunglasses, and roomy clothing. It is summer!
Alsace/Northeast France: The weather in the first half of the month is much like in July. Things start looking a bit like fall as August winds down. Daytime temperatures hover around 19°C, peak at 25°C, and can drop as low as 13°C. Rainfall in the period is light and the sun comes out more. Take what you would if it were July and you are good to go.
Paris: The lovely and warm weather continues all through August. There is no significant change in average temperature, precipitation, and general weather conditions. August in Paris is muggy, warm, sunny, and full of possibilities. Temperatures reach 25°C and climb close to 30°C in the afternoons. The nights are also noticeably less cool at 16°C. Take what you would if it were July, and if you are a rock fan, a dress to wear to the Rock en Seine, in Saint-Cloud. With this done, you are good to go.
Atlantic France: Things here are also still the same as in July. The warm weather means there would be a large crowd as both locals and tourists troop out to enjoy the sun before fall begins. It is the busiest month in this region of France.
Southern France: Same as in July with just a slight increase in the possibility for rain to fall. The weather is still so hot, sometimes well past 30°C. So, more time spent cooling off in the warm waters of the sea. Rainfall is light and far between during this period, so you can leave out your umbrella when you pack and your sweater as the evenings, at 20°C, are not chilly anymore. Do not stint on sunscreen, a hat, and light, free, sunglasses, and roomy clothing. It is summer! The sea temperatures remain the same and you can spend as much time as you like on the beach.
Alsace/Northeast France: It is fall in Alsace with an average temperature of 16°C. The occasional 21°C day will happen but not often as, with fall now in place, there is the steady return of longer nights and overcast days. Come along with your sweater and coats as nighttime temperatures can be as low as 10°C. Not freezing but cold still.
Paris: September marks a change from the warm days of July and August to the chill of fall. Temperatures start out at 25°C but continue to fall, sometimes as low as 13°C, as September gives way to October. Light rainfall mean it is still a good time to visit Paris but ensure you pack ahead of the change in temperature. Switch the sunscreen and hat for sweaters, thick socks, and head warmers.
Atlantic France: September here is a mix of sunny, outdoorsy days in the first half of the month, which still feels like summer, and not-so-sunny, overcast ones in the second half of the month, when autumn is in full swing. Temperatures during the day hover between 19°C and 23°C, though this might drop to 14°C as the month draws to a close. Pack for summer days and fall evenings.
Southern France: Like the other regions, the switch from summer to fall makes itself felt in the second half of September. The weather becomes noticeably chilly and the summer crowds start packing up to leave. At its peak, daytime temperatures rise as high 25°C, and 18°C at night. This is the perfect time to have a summer South of France experience with minimal crowding. You will have to contend with frequent rainfall though, so do not forget your umbrella and chill weather apparel for the cool evenings.
Alsace/Northeast France: Average temperature drops to 11°C as fall takes full effect. Daytime temperatures rarely go above 15°C before dropping to a chilly 7°C at night. The days are mostly overcast with a lot of rain and few sunny days. It is time to stow your summer clothes away and start dressing for the chill. Layered dressing is back in fashion!
Paris: With fall now in full swing, Paris in October is quite chilly. The temperatures drop from the July highs to as low as 16°C during the day and 10°C at night. Do not attempt to brave the cold, you are not The Hulk. If you decide to pop up in Paris now, do so with a boxful of sweaters, jeans, boots, thick socks, and your trusty umbrella for the rains.
Atlantic France: The weather cools off and becomes windy. Daytime-high temperatures of 18°C are regularly recorded, though they can also drop as low as 11°C. There would be rains for about 12 days and little or no crowd. Pack for layered dressing topped off with a top quality raincoat.
Southern France: Temperatures start falling, dropping from the 30s to 21°C. This is relatively warm weather but it will come along with grey days and increased rainfall. The rains are sudden but also pass quickly, so keep your umbrella and/or raincoat at hand. The sea temperature will also start dropping, hovering around 20°C, and becoming less of an escape from the heat and more a health hazard. For packing advice, go for clothing that can be layered as the weather is now too cool for summer wear.
Alsace/Northeast France: How is Alsace in November? Chilly, damp, and just above freezing temperature. But you get bargains –rent, food, clothing, souvenirs- and can enjoy the region without being jostled by the now-gone tourist crowd. Temperatures during the day fluctuate between 5°C and 8°C with weak and infrequent sunshine and decreased rainfall for 8 days of the month.
Paris: A return of the sloshy days as the temperatures drop and the city gets 15 days of light rainfall in the month. Paris in November is cold as temperatures hover around the 11°C mark during the day, an average temperature of 6°C at night, and just about two hours of sunlight per day.
So, why visit?
You should visit because you would have a reduced crowd to contend with and barely have to queue. This is in addition to reduced prices as the tourist season is practically over. Make sure your wardrobe contains clothing for the weather, including mufflers, coats, socks, gloves, and an umbrella. It is bundling up season.
Atlantic France: The Atlantic region will be cold and windy with daytime temperatures of 13°C (maximum) and nighttime temperatures of 7°C. There would be longer nights and shorter days as the sun shines just for about three hours a day. Winter is coming. Visit wearing cold weather gear and having more in your bag. Swimming is not advisable but if properly dressed (read this as bundled up in layers), you can take walks on the relatively empty beach.
Southern France: The usually mild-weathered South of France becomes relatively cold in November. But there would still be plenty of sunny days and a drop in rainfall. Daytime temperatures hover around 16°C followed 9°C nighttime temperatures. The sea is a no-no but you can take walks on the relatively empty beach. Pack for the weather which is sometimes cold, sometimes warm. The days are clear and the nights chilly.
Alsace/Northeast France: Winter is no more coming, it is here. Though cold, with daytime temperatures hovering between 3°C and 5°C (with the occasional 13°C high), and close to or below freezing at night, this region is at its finest in winter. The lights, the architecture, and the people make you think you are in a Hans Christian Andersen tale. There might be some snowfall but it would not be heavy. Probably not enough for a snowman but might be for a snow angel. Do not visit without your winter coat, boots, gloves, cap, ear muffs, thick socks, and more. If you can afford to, have more than one of these items.
Paris: if you decide to visit Paris in December, be ready for daytime temperatures that hover between 5°C and 8°C, and 3°C at night. Cold as it is, there is only a small chance of snow. You must have full-on winter gear to even be able survive Paris at this time. Boots, ear muffs, coats, gloves, sweaters, etc are must-haves. You know the drill.
Atlantic France: December is the coldest month in this region of France. It comes with cooler temperatures but rarely below freezing point. This reduces the chances of snow but not that of rain falling. In December, the region has an average daytime temperature of 10°C, which is only slightly less at night. There is a lot of wind and any visitor to the region should take his/her weather-compliant (read as WINTER!) clothing, including an umbrella.
Southern France: Winter in the South of France is milder than what gives in most parts of Europe, especially the tourist destinations. This does not mean it is not chilly as the temperatures during the day range from 10°C to 14°C. This is backended by a slightly chillier night and a forbidding sea that is now a teeth-chattering, toes-freezing 15°C. However, you can still get away with just wearing a sweater on most days as the need for layered dressing is not so great yet. Since you cannot go swimming, you can take advantage of the off-season discounts, shop, window shop, and take in the sights.
Most Popular Events in France
How else do you usher in a new year if not by celebrating it? New Year’s Day, January 1, is a global holiday celebrated in France too. It is better spent indoor with friends and family as a large number of businesses will not open at all. Notice I said a large number and not all? Yes, a few pubs and eateries stay open to serve the odd client but these also might close early. In cities like Lyon, Paris, and Marseille, the day is celebrated with a lot of fanfare, fireworks, and the New Year’s Day Grand Parade on the Champs-Elysees.
There is also the Epiphany/Feast of the Kings, an annual national holiday that is held on January 6th, to mark the 12th day of Christmas. One of the major highlights of the event is the une galette des rois, a special cake made and shared for that day. It contains a porcelain figure which crowns whoever finds it the king or queen of the day. If this does not get your juices flowing or is too pedestrian for you, then try to catch the La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc, a long and demanding international sled dog race. The race covers a distance of about 750 kilometers that starts off in Samoens and passes through cities in Switzerland and France over an 11-day period. As the racers try to be the first to cross the finish line, spectators are kept entertained with film screenings, fireworks, wine, exhibitions, and more. Around this time, the Truffle Festival holds in Sarlat. The festival is a celebration of the truffle in a large market where interested participants meet with truffle growers, buy fresh truffles, truffle-based items, and attend workshops on truffles.
February in France is for wining with the La Percée du Vin Jaune, a wine festival that celebrates the vin jaune (yellow wine), which is white wine that was allowed to ferment for two days before being placed in oak casks to mature. It is usually held in the first week of the month.
February is also for love as the 14th day of the month is Valentine’s Day, with a large number of people in red or a touch of it, exchange and delivery of cakes, chocolates, flowers, and notes professing a steady and undying love. The dinner cruise on the Seine river in Paris is quite popular on this day.
Next up is the highlight event of the month, Carnival! The Carnival draws in people from all over the world with its 17 floats, over 1000 musicians and dancers, awesome costumes, exoticism, all packed into six colourful parades. If you are undecided about where to enjoy Carnival, head to Nice. The next edition is in 20202 but the dates have not been announced yet. Not a close second but also a popular festival is the Dunkirk Festival with tens of thousands travelling down to watch musicians dressed like fishermen parade through the city and the unbundling of nearly 1,000 pounds of smoked herrings as they pass City Hall.
The Violet Festival, which holds in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, is an annual festival that is said to have been in existence since 1952. It is not always held in February, as it is sometimes done in March. The festival includes local dances, plays, and lined streets as the people of the commune celebrate the end of winter and the coming of spring. The next edition will hold in February, 2020 with a date to be announced long before the D-day so everyone can prepare.
In summary, February in France is for wines, love, partying, concerts, and a 67-year-old local festival.
In March, all roads lead to Sarlat for Sarlat Fest’Oie, a celebration of foie gras -a lovely delicacy- and a market for the promotion of homegrown products from the region. Foie gras, a luxury delicacy, is plentiful and free during this this festival. It is all about culinary delights but not all about eating them as there are also workshops and demonstrations by chefs and cooks. It is a festival for food lovers. Another non-national but still popular event is St. Patrick’s Day. The day is marked mostly in cities like Paris that have a lively and significant Irish population. It holds every year on March 17th.
Summer is here and the nation is shrugging off the cold and snow. Held annually on Easter Weekend in Arles, Easter Feria is the first port of call in France’s bullfighting season. The event draws almost half a million people and, apart from the bullfighting, for four days, it holds the residents and visitors to Arles spellbound. The event also features equestrian displays, spontaneous games, and music.
Another multiple-day event slated for April is the Kite and Wind Festival, which holds annually in Chatelaillon-Plage. The family-friendly event is three-day extravaganza that features demonstrations by kite enthusiasts. There is free flying (a crowd-puller), Rokkaku fighting, and kite-flying contests with the beach as a backdrop.
Next up is the Christian holiday of Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. A public holiday is declared on Easter Monday after Sunday is spent in church, celebration, wolfing down meals that have lamb, and having chocolate as dessert. Many shops are closed on this day. So, if you are a visitor or tourist, buy all you need the days before.
Summer is here and it kicks off with two national holidays celebrated on the same day: Labour Day and May Day. The holiday is held May 1 of every year. Labour Day is a celebration of the many workers whose industry keep the French economy going. May Day, on the other hand, is a chance to continue the French tradition of wishing loved ones happiness with a gift of lilies. If you are in France on this day and have plans to go out, look for establishments that say they would open on the day as not all businesses will open for business.
After this comes Victory Day on May 8. The annual holiday is a celebration of the end of the second world war (1939-1945) and the emancipation of France and its citizens. It features parades and reminisces of a time now past.
There is also the globally-acclaimed and crowd-pulling Cannes International Film Festival. For the duration of the festival, the city of Cannes is the darling of the film world, playing host to celebrities, film directors, professionals in the film industry, and those who just love films, hope to see a celeb, or meet one. It is an all-comers affair.
Meanwhile, on the Saturday closest to May 18, museums all over France open their doors till late for viewers to come in and walk through for free. They do this as part of events of the Night of Museums.
France in June is for the Joan of Arc Festival in Reims, a weekend-long festival of music, workshops, falconry display, and more in commemoration of the coronation of Charles VII; the D-Day Festival in Normandy which starts from the latter part of May till the middle of June. It features a parade, firework, re-enactments of battles, and salutes to veterans of the second world war (1939-1945) to mark the anniversary of the June 6 D-Day landings and the liberation of France from her occupiers. Another event to look forward to in June is the Bordeaux Wine Festival. The city of Bordeaux is renowned for its wine and football team. The bi-annual festival holds in the middle of June with attendees having a chance to sample a wide variety of wines from the Bordeaux and the Nouvelle Aquitaine regions, meet winemakers, and be entertained on the banks of the Garonne, a UNESCO heritage site.
Also in June is the Fete de la Musique (Music Festival) that holds annually on June 21 in Paris and its environs. The festival is a celebration of the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. If you are inclined to, you can be in Paris for the festival and then head to Samois-sur-Seine in the last week of the month for the Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival. It is a jazz music festival that features an eclectic mix of activities and a lot of music. It is also a chance to meet people and make new friends.
If you are a cycling fan, catching the Tour de France is a no-brainer. The three-week event is televised live to a global audience even as over 10 million spectators cheer the riders on from the sidewalk. July also features the Bastille Day celebrations. Held annually on July 14, this is a national holiday that features a military parade down the Champs Elysees, dances at the Place de la Bastille, and fireworks.
Other events in July are the Carcassonne Festival in the South of France with its concerts and shows; and the Colmar International Festival, an annual 10-day festival with each year dedicated to a particular music great as top music acts come on stage to give virtuoso performances. Come over and sing and shout yourself hoarse in fun and music.
August rushes in (saw what I did there?) with an annual festival: the Lorient Interceltic Festival. It usually holds in the first week of August with lots of fanfare as over 800,000 attendees troop in to participate in and enjoy the Celtic cultural heritages there present. The entertainment includes traditional processions, a Celtic market, and a host of other things Celtic.
August 15 is L’Assumption (The Assumption of Virgin Mary) a day marked as a public holiday in honour of the assumption of Mary, mother of Jesus, into heaven. Next up is a gathering of over 600 artistes in Confolens for one of the biggest music and dance festivals in the world: the Confolens Folklore Festival. With the participants and performers coming from different countries and continents, the performances are eclectic and are rooted in the origin/traditions of the performer.
Summer closes with Rock en Seine in Saint-Cloud. The concert is for rock music and its aficionados. It takes place annually in four states and over the last weekend in August.
You know how Madrid has Lavapies flea market? The Lille Market is France’s answer to that. The market is the largest flea market in the world and holds only once a year and over the first weekend of September. Tens of thousands of exhibitors, purveyors of high-quality secondhand goods, and over 3 million buyers and potential buyers flock down to Lille for the event. Show up and get items at the best bargain price you will get nowhere else for top-quality secondhand goods.
In mid-September, it is time for the two-day European Heritage Days when Parisians and others are given behind-the-scene access to happenings and fascinating places in the city halls and all government buildings. Also in mid-September in Paris is the Paris Autumn Festival. The festival runs till December and is a compendium of music, art, film, theatre, and more for the benefit of the audience, tourist inclusive.
As the year rolls to an end, food lovers can eagerly look forward to the French Gastronomy Festival. The festival is held all over France and is a celebration of the culinary delights that the country has to offer. It takes place on the last weekend of September, and features food tasting, markets, workshops, cooking demonstrations, and more.
Though cold, Paris is the place to be in October with the annual Nuit Blanche, which will hold on October 5, 2019. It is a dusk till dawn, must-see, arts and cultural masterpiece with no-fee access to art museums, and private and public galleries. In 2019, six days after this is the globally-known, traditionally German event, Oktoberfest, which will in hold in Paris for the fifth straight year from October 11 till October 19. There would be a lot of German food, beer, and music. Did I mention that there would be beer? Lots of in big mugs.
You can also head to La Rochelle for Jazz Between the Two Towers. The event holds annually with performances by both local and international jazz musicians. Some of the concerts are free while others are not. This year’s edition is billed for October 2 to 5.
October is also Halloween season. Though not widely-celebrated in France, a few establishments in Paris get in the spirit of the season and host Halloween-themed parties that will attract the tourists who have braved the cold to be in Paris.
November in France starts with All Saints Day, a public holiday observed on November 1 to commemorate the dead. This is followed by the Dijon International and Gastronomic Fair which features over 500 exhibitors and draws in an annual average of 250,000 food lovers. It is held in Dijon early in the month. If you love and appreciate good food and are open to trying new dishes, this is the place to be.
There is also Black Friday, a week-long event where businesss and e-commerce sites sell items at very great discounts.
November 11 is Armistice Day, a national holiday set aside to commemorate the end of World War I (1914-1919). It is a day France shows its appreciation for those who laid down their lives in defense of its territories. Moments of silence are observed and people visit the graves of their loved ones who died in the war. And then it is off to the Beaujolais Nouveau, the Festival of New Wine. Held nationwide on the third Thursday in November, it is a celebration of harvest as wine produced from the recently-harvested grapes are released at midnight.
All over the world, Christmas trees, lights, and a general feeling of bonhomie characterize December and France is not left out. Not only that, there are many events lined up to boost the Christmas cheer and spirit. From the Christmas Markets held across the country on Christmas Eve, to the Lyon Festival of Lights, a 4-day event in honor of Mary, the mother of Jesus, characterized by fireworks, candle-lit windows, and awesome displays, December is packed full with activities that bring people together as they begin the countdown to the end of one year and the start of another. There is also Habits de Lumiere, a 3-day event held in Epernay, the capital of Champagne. It is an event that involves a lot of music, firework displays, street performances, and more.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are celebrated in France with fire sales, discounts, gift-sharing, meals, and more. This is picked up on New Year’s Eve, as the people usher in the New Year with fanfare, love, fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower, parties, music and hope.