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

A view of autumn vineyards in France

Matteo Colombo / Getty Images

October is a magical month in France. The autumn colors are at their best and the frequently warm weather brings glorious days for walking outdoors. Also, the grape harvest season is in full swing in France's wine regions, and the country's love of festivals continues with a host of events to enjoy. Many attractions are open but without the crowds of summer, and hotels tend to offer low shoulder-season rates. In the evenings, you can sit in front of a crackling open fire sipping a glass of wine and watching the sunset.

France Weather in October

During October the weather in France can be variable, although temperatures average above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Most days are sunny, but about 12 days a month get rain or light showers.

  Average High Temperature Average Low Temperature Average Rainy Days
Paris 64 F (18 C) 50 F (10 C) 12
Bordeaux 64 F (18 C) 46 F (8 C) 14
Lyon 61 F (16 C) 45 F (7 C) 12
Nice 70 F (21 C) 63 F (17 C) 11
Strasbourg 57 F (14 C) 43 F (6 C) 13

What to Pack

Packing for France in October is not straightforward. You should definitely prepare for cold weather at some stage during your visit unless you are in the south of France at the beginning of the month. However, even there you may experience a few chilly days.

In the north, the weather can be lovely, but it's equally as fickle. Pack layers like sweaters or cardigans, a waterproof windbreaker, a warm jacket for the evening, and good walking shoes. If rain is in the forecast, bring waterproof boots and a sturdy umbrella that can resist the wind.

October Events in France

October brings a host of events and festivals to France ranging from film festivals to music, art, and flea markets. Note some of these gatherings are canceled or altered in 2020; see event websites for details.

  • Nuit Blanche (white night): Celebrated annually in many French cities, this arts festival usually occurring on the first Saturday of October is a time when attractions, museums, and parks stay open all night. This event is especially festive in Paris, taking place on October 3, 2020. Admire the art, talk to your fellow culture lovers, then have breakfast the next morning in a café over a steaming cup of café au lait and a buttery croissant.
  • Lumière Film Festival: The event from October 10-18, 2020, is held in the city of Lyon, where film started with the Lumière brothers. For over a week each October, more than 400 screenings showcase about 150 international films. The Lumière Award is given to honor significant people in the film world.
  • La Rochelle Jazz Festival: Held at various stages around the city center of La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast on October 14-17, 2020, the festival features four themed evenings, including hybrid, Baltic, vocal, and Afro-Cuban jazz.
  • Oktoberfest: As of early October 2020, information was not available on whether these events were taking place. In France, there is a German-style harvest celebration in Paris and Marseille with a Bavarian-style beer tent in the Paris Event Center and at Marseille Chanot. The 10-day event features plenty of beer, German cuisine, and Munich-style oompah deep brass bands.
  • Amiens Rederie: This event is canceled in 2020. One of the country's biggest flea markets and fairs happening since 1909, this brocante (vintage market) takes over Amiens in early October, featuring about 2000 exhibitors. 
  • Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival: This event is canceled in 2020. Taking place over several days in early October, the festival offers prestigious wine auctions and tasting, cooking demonstrations, and regional foods. Numerous bars and restaurants in the 18th arrondissement (administrative district, in this case, the Montmartre area of Paris) take part in this event that attracts over 500,000 visitors and wine connoisseurs.

October Travel Tips

  • Although most of France has beautiful weather during October you can anticipate lower hotel rates in the latter part of this shoulder season outside of Paris—except during large scheduled events.
  • Paris can be dry or have light showers in October. The average rainfall this month is usually one of the lowest of the year, so it's a great time to enjoy the romantic city.
  • Smaller monuments and attractions as well as restaurants in high tourist areas may close or reduce their hours after the majority of summer visitors have departed.
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