Plan Your Vacation to France This May

Spring weather, Cannes Film Festival, and a wealth of events

Palais des Festivals during Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France
Francois Durand/Getty Images

May is one of the most popular times for American tourists to visit France because of the mild and comfortable spring weather, plethora of events, and relatively small crowds at some of the country's most popular destinations.

Depending on which city or part of the country your visit on your May vacation to France, you can experience a wide variety of unique cultural events, including the famed Cannes Film Festival that attracts celebrities and commoners from around the globe.

Traveling to different cities can also make it challenging to pack for France as you will need a variety of spring clothing and layers. Evenings can be chilly, days spent walking can be quite warm, and you'll probably find some rain and wind, especially in Paris. As a result, your packing list should include a warm jacket for the evenings, sweaters or cardigans, good walking shoes, and a sturdy umbrella that can resist the wind.

Along with the start of spring events in France, you can also experience extended hours at tourist attractions as popular destinations gear up for summer crowds. However, rates on airfares and accommodations will also begin to climb this time of year, and the lines at France's most popular attractions will begin to get longer as the month progresses into the busy tourist season.

Preparing for Weather Wherever You Go

In May, the weather is generally mild, though there can still be spring showers and chilly evenings across much of France.

Still, according to where you are in France, there are some variations in the climate due to geographic location and typographical features like mountains and valleys. From Paris to Strasbourg, you're sure to discover an excellent adventure no matter where you go in France:

  • Paris experiences temperature ranges from 50 F (10 C) to 64 F (18 C) and an average of 57.2 F (14 C).
  • Strasbourg in northeastern France experiences temperatures to range between 46 F (8 C) and 68 F (20 C) with an average of 57 F (13 C).
  • Bordeaux sees temperatures between 50 F (10 C) and 66 F (19 C) with an average May temperature of 59 F (15 C).
  • Nice experiences a range of 55 F (13 C) to 68 F (20 C) with an average May temperature of 63 F (17 C).
  • Lyon sees temperatures between 48 F (9 C) and 68 F (20 C) with an average temperature of 59 F (15 C). 

Additionally, no matter where you go you can expect between eight to 13 days of rain in the month of May, with Nice receiving the least amount of rainfall and Paris receiving the most. However, it's important to keep in mind that the weather in France is rather volatile this time of year, so you should always come prepared for any weather condition.

Top Events and Festivals in France in May

Every year, France plays host to a variety of cultural events and celebrations, which really start to pick up steam as spring warms up over the month of May, making it an excellent month to plan your vacation—especially if you want to beat the summer tourist rush.

Perhaps the most popular and well-known event that happens each year is the  Cannes Film Festival, which showcases the best in independent filmmaking from around the world.

Although most of the screenings require industry credentials to access them, the Cinéma de la Plage is a nightly screening of Out of Competition films and Cannes classics, which you can experience by visiting the Cannes Tourism Office.

For culture and history enthusiasts, you can also attend the European Night of Museums or stop by the sites of William the Conqueror and the ​​1066 Battle of Hastings, where William defeated England to establish Norman rule over 950 years ago. Among the most popular historic destination in France is the Castle of William the Conqueror at Falaise.

Sports enthusiasts might also enjoy the ​French Open Tennis Championships in Paris, but you should be sure to book your tickets well in advance if you hope to get good seats for the tournament as the event tends to sell out quickly.