What Type Of Weather Can You Expect For Your French Vacations?

When you compare the size of France to the size of the United States there’s not even anything to compare is there? France is about the size of Texas.  So, because of this you might be tricked into thinking that the weather in France is one and the same, right?

Well, you’d be wrong.  The weather in France varies a great deal depending on where you are. North, center, mountain, east, west, and south, are all areas with different type of weather and temperatures that you may or may not be aware of.

So, let’s analyze what type of weather you can expect region by region and according to the seasons of course.

Grenoble, France

The Weather in Northern France (Le Nord de la France)

Unfortunately, the weather in northern France is not ideal, and not the warmest either. Even though it’s warmer in the summer of course, there are always some cool days even at the heart of summer in northern France.

Cities such as Lille, Calais, and Le Havre, for example, are a lot like the weather in England and Belgium.  Rather cold winters, and sometimes cool summers.  This is not to say that there isn’t any heat wave at times in the summer, such as summer 2012 where the all country was hot, but more often than not, you won’t be too hot in northern regions even in summer.

The Bretagane  and Normandie regions in the North West can be slightly warmer than the “true” north, but only by an average of a couple of degrees.  Paris and its surrounding tend to average the same temperatures as other northern cities, but also warmer by an average of 2 degrees.

Because of the weather being cooler to colder in the North, the diet in this part of the country tends to be heavier, and people drink more coffee and tea there, than anywhere else there.

Main Northern Cities where you can expect cool days even in summer are:

  • Lille
  • Calais
  • Le Havre
  • Brest
  • Rennes
  • Strasbourg
  • Deauville
  • Reims
  • Roubais
  • Tourcoing
  • Dunkerque
  • Paris

The average temperature in northern France in winter is 40°F and 70°F for the summer.  

Remember those are the “average” temperatures. They can be higher or lower in any season.

<a href="https://www.sylvianenuccio.com">Sun Map</a>

Central France (Le Centre de la France)

Central France is already warmer than Northern France, and summers are warmer and more stable when it comes temperatures and sunshine.  Central France is where most of the preserved French Castles are, and where the accent is called the “pure French accent”. Or so they say.

Winters can be cool to cold and summers can be pretty warm.   You can expect more sunshine in any season in central France than you would in northern France.

The main central France cities are:

  • Tours
  • Orléans
  • Châteauroux
  • Bourges
  • Le Mans
  • Chartres
  • Amboise
  • Montargis
  • Limoges
  • Dijon

The average temperature in Central France in winter is 42°F and 72°F for the summer.

The Rhone Alpes Region

The Rhone Alpes region’s weather is one that I’m very familiar with since it’s the region I grew up in.  This region is also nicknamed “the beginning of the south” and the temperatures are starting to warm up there.  Summers in the Rhone Alpes region are noticeably warmer than in northern France.

St-Laurent, Rhone, France

If you take the TVG train from Paris to Lyon like I did quite a few times when I was living in Paris, you will physically feel what I mean. Especially if you travel in the summer.  As you get off the train and step on that open train station you’ll feel a wave of heat engulfing you that wasn’t there when you left Paris, and if it was warm in Paris, well, it will be warmer in Lyon.

Main cities of the Rhone Alpes Regions are:

  • Lyon
  • The Beaujolais wine towns
  • Saint-Etienne
  • Valence
  • Annecy
  • Roanne
  • Vienne
  • Bourgoin-Jallieu
  • Bourg-en-Bresse
  • Aix-les-Bains
  • Montélimar
  • Grenoble
  • Chambéry

Note: Grenoble and Chambéry being mountain cities are always few degrees cooler than the rest of the cities of that region, and get more snow in the winter being at the foot of ski stations.

The average temperature in the Rhone Alpes region in winter is 45°F and 76°F for the summer.

Southern France

If you are looking for very hot summers and warm winters than nothing would be better than southern France.

The south of France is the only area where cactus grow in France, because of the large amount of sunny days, and warm to hot temperatures all throughout the year.  It basically never snows in winters in the south of France, except maybe on very, very rare occasions.

Saint-Tropez, France

Main cites of the South of France

  • Nice
  • Marseille
  • Cannes
  • Montpelier
  • Bordeaux
  • Perpignan
  • Carcassonne
  • Toulon
  • Avignon
  • Antibes
  • Eze
  • Menton
  • Saint Tropez
  • Sainte Maxime
  • Grasse 

The average temperature in Central France in winter is 53°F and 82°F for the summer.

What to Wear Depending on Where you Go?

When traveling in Northern France, even in the summer, always take a sweater or light jacket with you.  The weather is always more unpredictable in the north and you can expect cooler days even from May to September.

This said, if you do travel in the northern regions such as Paris in the summer, bring along summer clothes as well as it can also get warm to hot such as it was this past summer.

When traveling south of France in the summer you should need to bring an warm clothing as you can expect to be warm and even hot.  As you approach the beaches, however, you should always be able to feel the breeze.

The beaches of the north west, will always be cooler than then beaches of the south east even in the summer.

Never heard the French weather man? Here he is. If you can understand the weather man it means that you’re fluent in French.

Please, leave your input and comments below!

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10 Comments

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    I don’t know Sylviane, weather in the 40’s and 70’s sounds perfect to me. Heck, even the low 80’s sounds good. As long as it’s not raining all the time like it does in Alaska then I think that would be perfect weather. I always say I’d love to live somewhere where it’s in the low 70’s during the summer months. Our heat here in Texas is just a scorcher but the weather in France sounds awesome.

    Thanks for sharing that. You are such an encyclopedia when it comes to France. I love that!

    ~Adrienne
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      Well, I actually know lots of people here in the US that would be just fine even in the North of France because they like kind of cool weather. As for me I’m a “lizard” I love hot weather. For me it can’t almost never be too hot. Interestingly, my brother is the same.

      We’ve been in Death Valley in the middle of July, and we were OK, but we noticed that we were not crowded there 🙂 However we both hate cold. I can’t stand it. Cold literally hurts my body.

      I’m OK at 70 degrees, but I frankly like 90 degrees better. I know, I must sound crazy 🙂 Interestingly, I was born the hottest month of the year… August! It’s totally fits for me.

      Thanks for being here as always, Adrienne 🙂

  • Jeremy Norton says:

    Nice facts here. This will surely help a lot of travelers to decide what part in France they would plan to stay.

  • Harleena SinghTwitter: harleenas says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Weather can make so much of a difference to a place 🙂

    Just like you mentioned about France and a few other places, our end too we have particular kind of weather, though at times it gets pretty unpredictable too at times. But then, that’s the fun of it all. Presently, we are going through the starting phase of summers our end, but past 2-3 days it’s just been raining so hard that one hardly feels the heat! Whenever the heat crosses over more than usual, we have a few spells of rains and that helps a great deal.

    I guess I always prefer spring, autumn, and winters most of all. Summer are always a no-no for me, yet, some people just love it. Or perhaps it depends on the intensity or heat and the temperatures a place reaches.

    Thanks for sharing more about France with us. Have a nice weekend 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Harleena,

      Thank you for coming here and sorry for replying so late. Life it’s been crazy here lately.

      Weather can be pretty unpredictable in France as well and what I don’t like myself. I kind of like when the seasons are seasonable if you know what I mean. How interesting, summer is my favorite season. Always been. Well I was born in summer too.

  • Sue PriceTwitter: suejprice says:

    Hi Sylviane

    Even though I have visited France on a number of occasions I never really understood the range of weather.

    It is funny to think of the whole of France as the size of Texas. As you know Australia is more the size of USA.

    I am just like you described in your response to Adrienne. I hate the cold. You really do have to come and visit me Sylviane I think you will love our climate.

    Now you are going to laugh at this one. My very fist visit to France was in the seventies and I did a camping tour from the UK via France to the top of Italy and then down to North Africa. The first couple of nights we camped in Lyon – in November!!! Yes I am a crazy Australian and had no idea how cold it got at night. It was the coldest I can ever remember feeling.

    Last time I was in France was in an October and Paris was hot. So I know it varies.

    A great post and as always I love this blog.

    Sue
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Sue,

      Yes, I know, I would love the climate of Australia. I know it’s sunny a lot. What would be strange to me is that summer would be in what I know as winter in the part of the world.

      Now camping in Lyon in November, that’s crazy. November is winter and yes, it’s cold. Nobody wants to sleep outside at this time of the year 🙂

      Thank you for coming, Sue 🙂

  • Annie AndréTwitter: annieandrehacks says:

    Hi Sylviane,
    Checking the weather before you travel is one of my top tips i give to people when they travel. last year when we lived in Marseille it actually snowed and for almost a month the temperatures reached freezing temperatures. I had to buy winter jackets for the kids and we had just spent the winter in Montreal where it was below zero. This year, in La Garde it is in the 60’s and raining a lot. Still too cold to swim in the water for me. Everyone has wet suites over at the beach in Le pradet.. 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Annie,

      Yes, checking the weather is important, especially in France where it’s been pretty unpredictable these past 2 decades or so, thanks to those who are destroying the eco system of our planet.

      I hope you’ll have a warm and sunny summer!

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