November in France: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Fall Colors, Christmas Markets, and Travel Savings

Vineyards in autumn, Beaujolais region, Rhone Alpes, France

Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

Although November might seem a grey month with chilly weather and shorter days, it's a good time to pick for a French vacation. With fall colors lingering and brightening up the countryside and city parks, the crisp, cool weather can be ideal for a bit of outdoor recreation or sight-seeing.

November has one of the most important dates in history that is celebrated throughout the country. November 11th is a public holiday to mark Armistice Day, which commemorates the end of World War I. The armistice, signed in a railway carriage in a remote part of Picardy is very important to the French people. Both large cities and small villages have ceremonies to mark the commemoration of what was the most memorable date for the French and the Allies.

As November draws to the end, the Christmas markets spring up all over France with seasonal treats, toys, and decorations. 

Most importantly, airfares are beginning to fall and there are some good holiday and off-season prices on accommodations. 

France Weather in November

In November the weather can still be warm in the south but may change so pack for the cold as well. The north tends to the cold and rainy so as you travel through France, it helps to dress in layers. You'll see this variability in the weather averages for some major cities:

  • Paris:
    Temperature ranges from 3 degrees C (7 degrees F) to 7 degrees C (44 degrees F
    The average temperature is 4 degrees C (39 degrees F)
    Average number of days with some rain is 16
  • Bordeaux:
    Average temperature ranges from 5 degrees C (41 degrees F) to 13 degrees C (55 degrees F)
    Average temperatures is 7 degrees C (45 degrees F)
    Average number of days with some rain is 15
  • Lyon:
    Temperature ranges from 4 degrees C (39 degrees F) to 10 degrees C (50 degrees F)
    The average temperature is 7 degrees C (45 degrees F)
    Average number of days with some rain is 14
  • Nice:
    Average temperature ranges from 9 degrees C (48 degrees F) to 16 degrees C (61 degrees F)
    The average temperature is 11.5 degrees C (53 degrees F)
    Average number of days with some rain is 12
  • Strasbourg:
    Average temperature ranges from 2 degrees C (36 degrees F) to 8 degrees C (46 degrees F)
    The average temperature is 5 degrees C (41 degrees F)
    Average number of days with some rain is 15

What to Pack

When you visit France in November, depending on where you'll be traveling, pack for the average weather but be sure and include some warmer gear. Plan for layers and include a scarf, hat, and gloves so that you will be comfortable if the weather cools down, especially in evenings.

If you are going to the mountains, it can snow and if snow comes early, the ski resorts will open, at least for weekends.

Especially if you are traveling in the northern parts of France, you will need to include some of these cool-weather items.

  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts
  • Medium weight jacket, preferably waterproof
  • Long pants
  • Closed-toe, comfortable shoes
  • Light boots or day hikers
  • Umbrella
  • Gloves and neck scarf
  • Warm hat

And remember all those goodies in the Christmas markets and perhaps take an extra suitcase or leave room in your main one for French treats. A comprehensive Vacation Packing List for France will be helpful as it includes what to pack in your carry-on bag and what medical and self-care items you'll want to bring. 

November Events

If you are in a city like Paris in November, there will be rainy days where you'll want to enjoy indoor activities such as visiting the well-known museums like The Louvre. And even in small towns, spending some time sipping coffee in a little bistro will be an ideal way to dodge raindrops. There are some major events which make traveling to France ideal in November.

  • Armistice Day is celebrated in every corner of France. It's particularly moving to visit the many World War I sites in northern France at this time. The date, always November 11th, is a public holiday with many museums and attractions closed. If you miss that day, you can always take in commemorations on the closest weekend to Armistice Day. 
  • The Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction takes place over three glorious days in Beaune, Burgundy. The tradition dates back to 1859 when the first auction of wines produced from the various vineyards owned by the Hospices was held by candlelight. Two candles were lighted at the beginning of the sale of each batch and the sale went to the person bidding last as the candles went out.
  • Beaujolais Nouveau is released at midnight on the last Thursday of the month. This is a great occasion for a bit of feasting and celebrating this young wine. Look for special events and wine dinners in restaurants. 
  • The Fine Art and Antiques Fair in Toulouse sees some 300 dealers setting up shop for avid antique and fine art collectors. The event, always held at the beginning of November, attracts those new to collecting as well as seasoned collectors from all over the world. There is also a monthly market
  • Christmas markets open all over France in preparation for the annual December holiday. Colorful wooden stalls line the boulevards, streets, and marketplaces and with that comes a sense of excitement and anticipation. Even small villages will have an outdoor Christmas market. 
  • Halloween has become quite a festival in France. Halloween was originally All Hallows Eve, part of a 3-day event honoring the dead, which included saints (hallows), martyrs and relatives. The night was a time to challenge the power of death with humor which has become the fanciful tradition of Halloween today. While Halloween falls on October 31st throughout the world, the French are more concerned with Toussaint, All Saints Day, which takes place on November 1. On this day, you'll come across families going to the cemetery together to light candles in little lanterns and put flowers on the graves of their relatives.
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