Best time to travel
When is the Best Time to Travel to France?
The weather in France tends to be quite temperate year round making travel easy any time. However, with a coast on the warm Mediterranean, mountainous areas in the Alps, and cooler coasts on the Atlantic (such as Normandy) the weather can be variable from region to region. Your definition of “perfect” will determine the best time to visit France for you!
• Spring (April to June) The weather in spring is temperate and there tends to be less tourists during early spring. Expect mostly sunny, warm days with occasional rain fall. Temperatures average mid-50s to low 70s. Everything is open (museums, cafes, art festivals, etc.). With less tourists to contend with this also means less congested roads and shorter waits. Paris, Loire Valley, Normandy, and Alsace are exceptional in spring.
• Fall (September to November) Fall in France is the start of “la rentrée”, when children return to school and the holidays are over. This is perfect time to visit France as most tourists have returned home. In southern region of the country, the weather remains pleasantly warm-but not hot, the countryside is showing off its’ autumnal colors, and the famous Fête des Vendanges. Temperatures average mid-50s to low 70s. Provence, Pyrenees, Paris, and the Loire Valley are recommended regions.
• Summer (July through August) Summers in France tend to be the most crowded. July and August are considered peak season. Not only do the summers bring international tourists, these months are when most French travel in France, too. This means that some places (museums, shops, and restaurants) are closed. However, summers also offer the largest numbers of markets and festivals to explore and the Tour de France. Temperatures can get quite hot in some southern areas of France – up in to the 90s.
• Winter (December through March) Winter is considered more of an “off-season.” However, winter also provides minimal tourists, better rates, French Christmas markets, and winter sports (did someone say Chamonix?) Or better yet, visit the Cote d’Azur on the French Mediterranean and experience the best of both worlds by enjoying warm days on the beach and brisk evenings by the fire.
How to Prepare
Check out these tips on how to prepare for your France Vacation
1. Electrical Converter
Like many European countries, France uses a 220 volt system (as opposed to 110 like the US) and requires a converter if you’re traveling from North or South America. You will also need to purchase a Type-E plug adapter in order to use your electrical devices. *Some new electronic devices and appliances can be used with either 220 V or 110 V and do not require a converter (but do require a plug adapter). Be sure to check the specifications of your devices before use.
2. Must See and Do List
Because France has so many things that you must see and/or visit, it is a good idea to make a prioritized list before you leave. It is also helpful to book tickets to certain events (e.g. opera, theaters, concerts, etc.) before travel.
3. Be Prepared for Inclement Weather
Despite having mostly temperate weather, it’s best to be prepared for any weather. France can experience showers, cooler winds, and also hot, humid days. No need for a parka (unless you’re skiing!) but a light, waterproof jacket is a good idea.
4. Here’s a resource!
The Paris Tourist Office provides essential information on the cost of living for working out how many Euros you will need for your stay in Paris: meals, cultural activities, getting around… If you have a small budget, there are guides full of handy ideas.
1. Head for the ATM
Use your debit, credit or ATM card to withdraw cash directly from your account once you arrive in France. Although exchanging a small amount of cash from dollars to Euros prior to departure is considered good practice in case of an emergency, you will typically receive a better exchange rate by withdrawing funds directly from your account using an ATM machine after you arrive. ATMs are plentiful in all but the most remote locations and, no matter who you bank with, your ATM card should be accepted. Check with your bank beforehand to avoid potential issues, as some banks do charge international transaction fees. Others banking institutions may place an automatic block preventing access to accounts from foreign locations.
2. See the sights for free
Entrance to many museums and monuments is free on certain days of the week and certain periods of the year. Make note that the entrance to the permanent collections of the national museums and monuments is free for young people under 26-years-old from one of the 27 European Union countries.
The French reputation for rudeness is undeserved. In fact, they are sticklers for formal politeness. Beginning an exchange with a simple “Do you speak English?” will get you started on a positive note. Learning a few key French words will also take you far. Offer a bonjour when walking into a shop or café and an au revoir when leaving, even if nobody seems to be listening. Always say please, s’il vous plaît, and thank you, merci.