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

Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

The days are warm but the air is fresher; the autumnal colors are beginning to show and there’s a wonderful feeling of the last moments of summer. 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, France in September ticks all the right boxes.

Why Visit France in September

From exhilarating festivals and exhibits to relaxing beach excursions and temperate weather, here are reasons to consider a September trip to France:

  • 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.
  • The weather is typically warm and mild.
  • All museums and attractions are still open, usually offering extended summertime hours.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    September Events in France

    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, filling the city.
    • 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 like 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 Provence city, famous for the running of the bulls and the 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. Don't miss the solemn mass and a torchlight evening tour of the town.

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

    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 is generally moderate in temperature throughout France. But while the south can still be hot and dry at times, Paris and the north can be unpredictable (you can experience rain or a heatwave). So, depending on where you are traveling, include the following clothing 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
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