France in September: Weather, What to Pack, & What to See

Late Summer Days, Great Festivals, and the Grape Harvest Beckon

Gevrey-Chambertin Vineyard in autumn
Autumn in Gevrey-Chambertin, a commune in the Côte-d'Or department of France.

Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

The days are warm but the air is fresher; the autumnal colors are beginning to show and the heady last days of summer offer visitors a lovely atmosphere. France in September is one of the year’s best months to visit. You benefit from fewer crowds, attractions that are still operating at full capacity, the inviting temperature of the sea, and the grape harvest with all its attendant festivals. Plus, with Paris getting back to business after the long break, there's plenty of excitement to look forward to, from new exhibits and exhilarating festivals to restaurant openings.

France Weather in September

The weather in September is usually warm and settled, though the air can be crisp and fresh. The evenings are cooler and the leaves start to turn color as autumn begins. Here are weather averages for some major cities.

Lows and Highs Average Temperature Average Days With Rain
Paris 55–70 F (13–21 C) 59 F (15 C) 12
Bordeaux 54–73 F (12–23 C) 61 F (16 C) 13
Lyon 54–73 F (12–23 C) 64 F (18 C) 11
Nice 63–77 F (17–25 C) 68 F (20.2 C) 7
Strasbourg 48–68 F (9–20 C) 59 F (15 C) 12

What to Pack

September temperatures are generally fairly moderate throughout France. But while the south can still be hot and dry at times, Paris and the north can be unpredictable. It isn't unusual for the capital to be plodded with heavy rain or searing under an intense heatwave in September. Depending on which cities and regions you plan to travel to during your stay, include the following items in your packing list:

  • Light cotton clothes for sunny days
  • Light windbreaker or cardigan for chilly evenings outdoors
  • Hat, visor, sunglasses, or sun gear for sunny days
  • Sunscreen with SPF protection
  • Bathing suit
  • Comfortable walking shoes

September Events in France

Theres so much to see and do this month. You'll find an abundance of wine and jazz, music, and even bullfighting festivals when visiting France in September. Here are a few popular options to consider:

  • The Braderie de Lille, the largest flea market and brocante fair in France, takes place in Lille in northern France on the first weekend of September.
  • The Basque Country Music Festival, one of France's premier music festivals, takes place at the end of August and beginning of September along the Atlantic coast in places including St-Jean-de-Luz and Biarritz.
  • The Feria du Riz or Rice Feria, (in Arles, one of the great Roman cities of France), is a showcase of bullfighting traditions in Southern France. The fans may leave the arena but the party continues into the night in this Provencal city, famous for the running of the bulls and spectacular Camargue horses.
  • Jazz a Beaune, (in the fabulous city of Beaune), celebrates two great French passions -- the local Burgundy wines and jazz music. Also available are classes on wine tasting and the jazz masters.
  • The Harvest in St Emilion marks the beginning of the harvest in one of France's key wine-producing areas, just an hour from the major city of Bordeaux. Don't miss the solemn mass and a torchlight evening tour of the town.

September is also a lovely time to take a French wine tour, as the annual grape harvest is in full swing.

September Travel Tips:

  • Enjoy the peace of the streets and the beaches, particularly along the Cote d'Azur as most European and American tourists return to work and school.
  • All museums and attractions are still open, usually offering extended summertime hours. Take advantage of these longer hours and beat the crowds.
  • Many of the museums, like the Pompidou Center in Metz and the great Louvre-Lens in northern France, are starting their extravagant autumn exhibitions.
  • Rates begin to decrease on lodging and airfare during this time of year. Make sure to lock in good rates while you can.
  • Short trips from Paris are much easier to arrange thanks to fewer travelers on the road. Plus, trains and hotels are relatively easy to book.