France is a geographically diverse country whose weather conditions vary significantly from region to region. Overall, you can expect three different types of climate.
The Mediterranean climate, reigning in most of southern France-- excluding the cooler mountainous areas of the southwest-- tends to have hot summers, temperate to cool winters, and less rainfall compared to other regions. The continental climate, which dominates in Paris and central France, features warm to hot summer and colder winters, as well as significant precipitation. Finally, the oceanic climate is found in the west of France and tends to feature smaller temperature ranges, temperate winters and summers, and ample rainfall.
Popular Cities in France
Paris: In the fall and winter, Paris tends to be quite cold, while in the summer sweltering, muggy days often alternate with dramatic summer storms. The spring and fall are probably the most pleasant times to visit, but rainfall is on the high side throughout the year. You can see more on typical weather by season in Paris in our full guide.
Nice: Nice is a Mediterranean city prized for its beaches and warm to hot weather. It's an ideal destination for a late spring to early fall beach holiday. However, Nice in fact sees some of the country's heaviest precipitation in certain months of the year. Overall, the average annual temperature in Nice is a mild 60 F, with temperatures climbing into the 80s and 90s during the summer.
Lyon: The central Eastern city of Lyon tends to be warm to hot in the summer and cold in the winter. This is a rainy region, with annual precipitation exceeding 53 inches a year. It's generally most pleasant to visit in spring, early summer and fall. The annual average temperature is around 60 F, with temperatures often dipping below zero in the late winter and lingering at around 70 F in the summers.
Strasbourg: This northeastern city tends to feature cooler temperatures, including bracingly cold conditions in late fall and winter and relatively temperate summers. Rainy conditions are common throughout the year. The average annual temperature is 50 F, but in winter sub-freezing conditions are common. The best time to visit is in summer and during the winter, when festive Christmas markets spring up.
Bordeaux: Bordeaux is an inland city near the Atlantic coast. While it can have hot, muggy summers, temperatures tend to be more moderate, ranging from an average of 42 F in January to around 70 F in late summer. The average annual temperature is about 55 F. Bordeaux is a wet city, with high annual precipitation levels. The best times of year to visit are summer, when outdoor festivals make the city especially lively, and the fall, when vineyards celebrate harvest season.
Spring in France
Pleasant, temperate conditions tend to reign in spring, with chillier temperatures in March and early April giving way to warmer ones from late April. Overall, depending on your destination and trip dates, expect temperatures to range between around 50 F to 75 F. Rainfall tends to be heavy, especially in the North and on the west coast.
What to Pack: Packing layers is essential, since spring temperatures tend to vary more widely between the morning, late afternoon and evening. If visiting Northern France or the west, bring warm sweaters, socks, an umbrella and waterproof shoes for chilly mornings and rainy days. Even if you're heading to the south, spring gales can make conditions brisk at times. Light shirts, blouses and jeans/pants are necessary for warmer days.
Summer in France
With the exception of the western coastal areas which tend to be more temperate, summer conditions in France tend to be warm to hot. Average temperatures range from about 60 to 80 F (in Paris); in Nice and on the south coast they range from around 80 to 90 F. In recent years, heatwaves in Paris and elsewhere have brought record-breaking temperatures, sometimes exceeding 100 degrees F. Summer storm systems are common.
What to Pack: Make sure to prepare for sweltering conditions by packing plenty of light summer clothing in breathable materials, including t-shirts, shorts, and open-toed shoes. Prepare for summer storms by packing waterproof jackets, closed-toed shoes, an umbrella and other rain gear. If swimming is a possibility, also bring appropriate swimwear.
Fall in France
You can expect generally pleasant, temperate weather during the early fall months in France. Crisp, clear conditions and moderately warm days tend to reign in late September, and in recent years heat spells have not been uncommon.
As you head toward late October and early November, temperatures dip sharply, and rainy season returns. Temperatures occasionally dip below zero at this time. Overall, anticipate average fall temperatures ranging from as low as 40 degrees to as high as 70 or 75 F.
What to Pack: If you're visiting in the early fall (September through early October), pack plenty of layers to ensure you're prepared for unusually warm or cool conditions. If you're visiting in the late fall, a winter coat, scarf, and other cold-weather gear can be essential, particularly if you're traveling to Northern, central and Eastern France.
Winter in France
Winter in France is generally quite chilly, even in more temperate coastal regions. Snowfall is rare outside of the mountainous regions of the Alps and Pyrenees. Temperatures often fall below zero, with average temperatures ranging from 32 F to 45 F, depending on the region. In recent years, unusually warm temperatures have been recorded in many regions.
What to Pack: If you're visiting the south of France or the west coast, you can probably get away with packing clothing and gear for mild winter conditions. But do bring a warm jacket, sweaters and scarf in case temperatures dip into the 40s. For trips to Paris, central, eastern and Northern France, bring a heavy winter coat, scarf, gloves, and hat. Also pack warm sweaters and socks.