The French traditionally take their summer holidays from July 14 (Bastille Day) to mid-August, so you may find some shops closed for the first half of the month as residents of northern France migrate south, where the coastal beach cities experience high volumes of tourists and citizens alike soaking up the summer sun.
August is still a high festival season in France, celebrating food, music (especially jazz), street theater, arts, and films all month. Many of the cities like Chartres and Amiens put on spectacular light shows at night, while the Château de Blois presents a dramatic living history lesson after dark—when the weather stays warm enough to stay out late. Additionally, all museums and attractions are open with extended summertime hours throughout the month, and it's one of the best times to experience outdoor dining on sidewalks and terraces across the country.
August Weather in France
The weather in France is usually glorious in August, but it can be stormy in some regions. Generally, you can expect blue skies and warm temperatures, even at night, but according to where you are in the country, there are variations in climate. Average highs across France reach upwards of 80 degrees Fahrenheit on the hottest days and average lows are 55 degrees Fahrenheit on the coolest nights.
In Paris and the north of France, August can be unpredictable. It can be stormy, so expect heavy showers at any time. However, it can also be very hot. Meanwhile, the South of France may be quite warm and humid, featuring several heat waves with temperatures up to the high 90s. Depending on which city you visit, you will likely experience drastically different weather.
- Paris: 75 F (24 C) / 59 F (15 C) / 13 days of rain
- Bordeaux: 79 F (26 C) / 57 F (14 C) / 11 days of rain
- Lyon: 79 F (26 C) / 56 F (13 C) / 11 days of rain
- Nice: 81 F (27 C) / 64 F (18 C) / 7 days of rain
- Strasbourg: 75 F (24 C) / 55 F (13 C) / 14 days of rain
What to Pack
France is a large country so what you pack depends on where you are going. In the hot, dry South of France, you'll want light cotton clothes, a light windbreaker, a hat or visor, good sunscreen, a bathing suit, comfortable walking shoes, and open-toe sandals. In the wetter, northern part of France, you may want to bring a raincoat, umbrella, and waterproof shoes, and perhaps a light jacket in case you get chilly at night.
August Events in France
From rich cultural celebrations to lively music festivals, there's no shortage of great ongoing and annual events in France in August. While many locals flock to the southern beaches of France to cool off, others stay in the city to experience the country's diversity of special events.
- Jazz in Marciac: This jazz festival, started in 1978, takes place over three weeks in July and August. Thousands of attendees head to the southwestern village of Marciac to enjoy local and internationally-known artists.
- Arelate Festival: The Arles Roman Arena comes alive with gladiators, chariots, and Roman games for a celebration of Medieval culture for several days toward the end of the month.
- Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival: People from around the world attend to explore the numerous themed gardens in this event, which has taken place in the Loire Valley from April through November each year since 1992.
- Pyrotechnic Art Festival: This firework show, dating back to 1967 and presented by a different country each year in the Bay of Cannes, is viewed by huge numbers of people annually. The competitions judging firework artists for innovation, synchronization, rhythm, and other categories make the event even more exciting.
- World Cultures Festival: An international folk dance and music celebration in Montoire-sur-le-Loir, this festival runs for about a week in August and has more than 40 years of history.
August Travel Tips
- If you're not a fan of large crowds, avoid the South of France in the first half of the month and stay away from the cities during big celebrations like the Pyrotechnic Art Festival.
- Book accommodations, restaurant reservations, concert and show tickets, and airfare well in advance to avoid oversold venues and overpriced travel.
- Rooms sell out fast in the South of France, especially in the cities, but you may have some luck in Northern France or some smaller coastal towns. Or you could always stay at one of the public campsites for a small fee.
- While you may not need to book your train tickets in advance (if you plan on traveling between north and south France), buying ahead can save you money on your travel costs.