Best Time to Visit the South of France – Ultimate Guide
Are you planning on going to Southern France but do not know the best time to go? In our best time to visit the South of France ultimate guide you will find tips and advice on how to pick the perfect dates to visit the South of France region. See below our month by month explanations:
One of the best months to go to Southern France. The kids are back in school, the heavy crowds are gone but the beach and the sun are still here, just for you! The 1st week of September is a safe choice if you are interested in going to the beach. We often have the “Indian Summer”, a period of extended summer weather with temperatures in the 70s/80s. It may even still be warm enough for swimming until the end of September. Most of the seasonal activities are still running although most of the festivals are over.
• October, November:
The weather is now cooler than the summer (averages: October 59F, November 50F) but this time of the year is pretty rainy. Near the region of Montpellier for example starting mid October there is often what we call “Cevenol Rains”, heavy-non-stop-rains, which often end up in flooding, especially routes near the sea or canals.
• December, January, February:
This is the winter time! Average weather is about 45 F so not too cold. Snow is rare. At this time of the year you will want to visit the main cities and avoid small villages and beach towns (unless you are looking for peaceful quiet walks with no one around.) Nice holds it’s famous Carnaval in February and there are many Christmas markets until mid/end of January all around the South of France. Winter is a nice time to enjoy the holiday season but note that most of the shops and restaurants that are usually open during the tourist season are closed, especially in the smaller towns. Also temporary art exhibits tend to use this slow time to change their exhibit, for example the Carrieres de Lumieres (read our blog post why you must visit this art show) closes on January 5th and reopens on March 1st.
Weather is still cool, the cities are still quiet. All the holiday celebrations are over and not all the activities and restaurants are open for the season yet. The weather can be hit or miss as it can be rainy. In summary, March is not the best month to come to Southern France.
• April, May:
You can tell that Spring is here. Kids are having their Easter vacation in April and the tourist season is now starting in Southern France. The cold is gone, the sun is out, shops and restaurants are now open in the beach towns and smaller towns. You won’t be able to go for a swim yet and the nights will still be pretty cold. The birds are singing, the sky is blue and the colorful flowers are out, enjoy the red wild poppy flowers filling the fields, bright yellow broom shrubs, and the gorgeous purple wisteria. Spring is an excellent time to visit the South of France. You can still have most of the advantages of Southern France without the summer crowd!
Choose the month of June for warmer weather and light crowds. By the end of June you may be able to enjoy a swim in the sea, but the water will still be a little cold. On June 21st (first day of Summer) there is a really fun festival called Music day. There will be many bands, famous or local, playing all over the country on street corners and stages.
• July, August:
This is the peak of summer. The weather is warm, sometimes hot! (average: July 73F August 72F with hot days in the 80s and 90s). The water is the right temperature for swimming and you can enjoy the many activities going on, festivals, concerts etc… Summer in Southern France is a busy and fun time to visit! You can go see a concert at the Nimes arena, take a boat ride on the Meditteranean, enjoy the many outdoor wine tasting festivals, have a late dinner on the terrace of a restaurant, and enjoy the warm weather of the summer. There are also weekly parties in cities and larger villages known as “Estivals” featuring music and local artisan food, wine, and goods for sale. Some of the larger ones are the wine tasting festival in downtown Montpellier, or the Theater festival in Avignon.
This is also peak Lavender season, if you are coming to see the purple fields, the month of July is the time to see them. The lavender in Provence actually starts to bloom in many places in mid-June but July 1st to 15th is the best and safest time to see lavender as after that the harvest will start while the flower is in full bloom. The latest you can see lavender is early August if you are lucky. Lastly the biggest holiday in France, Bastille Day, is on July 14th. This is a good time to come to see fireworks and enjoy the celebrations.
We think that the best time to visit the South of France during the summer is in July (if you want to see lavender in bloom) or at the end of August. The end of August is actually a very nice time as the families are getting ready for the school year to start and the September “off season” tourists are not here yet. Try to avoid August 15th in the South when everyone is trying to go to the beach during this holiday – but it would be a nice time to visit the North! (check out our Normandy tours).
After reading our best time to visit the South of France guide you should now have a better idea on which month is the best one for you.
1) If you are coming for the lavender fields, mid-June to mid-July is the time to go to Southern France.
2) If you don’t care to go swimming in the sea, you should come to Southern France in the Spring: April to mid-June or from mid-September to early October.
3) If you are looking for warmer weather you should come late June to mid September. This is an excellent time to visit the South of France with great weather. To enjoy warm weather and smaller crowds, come late August to mid September.
4) If you want cooler weather and almost no crowds, April and May are great times to visit the South of France.
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