Country guides Europe
Climate in France
France is big, spanning a range of different climatic regions. The south of France has a warm Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Strong winds, known as 'le Mistral', can occur in the Cote d'Azur, Provence and in the Rhone Valley, particularly over the winter and spring. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year and some snow is expected in winter. Northern France, including Paris, has a temperate climate similar to southern England, with warm summers, cold winters and rainfall throughout the year. The western coast, from the Loire Valley to the Pyrenees, is milder, and summer days are generally very hot. The mountainous areas are cooler and get heavy snowfall in winter.
During summer most French residents take their five-week vacation to the coast and mountains, and empty cities tend to shut down accordingly. The peak tourist season in France is in the summer months of July and August, when the French themselves tend to take their vacations, but as this period is expensive and crowded the best time to visit France is actually in the spring (March and April) and autumn (September and October) when the weather is mild. Of course, the ski resorts boom in the winter and, for those who don't mind the cold, a winter holiday in cities such as Paris has a charm of its own.