Climate & Weather in France

Climate & Weather in France

Climate and weather in France vary greatly due to its regional diversity, size, and location. Additionally, climate change has contributed to puzzling weather phenomenon including one of the coldest, snowiest years in 2010 in southern France. Generally speaking, the French climate is very balanced; not too hot, nor too cold.

As France’s borders include the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and dramatic mountain ranges - the Alps, and the Pyrenees, varying weather patterns and climatic conditions occur throughout the countryside.

France has two main climate zones - Oceanic in the west, and Continental in the east. This means that western areas of France, extending from Lille in the far northern area to the Pyrenees Mountains in the south, and inland to Paris, Dijon, and the western edge of the Mediterranean enjoy a mild climate with moderate rainfall throughout the year. In the east, notably from the French Alps west along the French Riviera and North to France’s border with Germany, the climate is generally drier, except in the mountainous regions which will see colder, snowy winters. Also in the east, summers will tend to be hotter.

While the average annual rainfall in France is about 31 inches, it falls only mildly in Nice on the Mediterranean, and in Paris, while it may fall frequently throughout the year; the average rainfall is minimal at around 23 inches. Marseille, on the French Riviera, only receives about 20 inches per year.

The rainiest months for most of France are October and November, while Paris in the central west and Strasbourg in the mountainous northeast see the most rain in July.

And what of the sun? The coastal areas in the west enjoy mild maritime weather; raining lightly but throughout the entire year. The French Riviera celebrates 300 days of sun! In the north-eastern parts of France, sun is likely - even on cold winter days.

Climate & Weather in France

Depending on your itinerary, goals, and interests, visiting France any time of year is an enjoyable experience. The best time to visit overall is the period between May and June, and also the beginning of autumn- September and October. Temperatures are comfortable; not too hot, and not too cold.

The best time to visit Paris is in the spring between April and June, or the fall between September and November. The city at this time sees mild weather, courteous people, and tickets to events and sites are easier to come by.

The French Riviera is always beautiful, electric, and enjoyable. If one does not fancy the rain however, avoid the spring and fall when it is most often the wettest.

The French Alps are best year round depending on your desires. If hiking, biking, and comfortable outdoor activity is your goal, aim for June through August. It is important to know however, that snow can remain in many parts of the Alps well past June. If skiing world class snow is the goal of your visit, November through April is the most appropriate time to go.

One should always be prepared for the occasional rain, or wind chill in France, but during most of the year, your journey will be comfortable, enjoyable, and fulfilling.