The Seasons of the Year in France Explained

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France is situated in the Northern Hemisphere and as its fellow European neighbouring nations, goes through a cycle of four distinctive seasons. Let’s have a closer look at the seasons of the year in France with some interesting facts…

 

What is a season in France?

The Earth revolves around the Sun in 365 days. The tilt of the Earth’s axis combined with the rotation of the Earth around the Sun produces an alternation of seasons.

These four seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter) each last about three months.

These four periods of the year have approximately constant weather conditions.

The spring and autumn equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices mark the beginning of each season.


The Ancient Times and the seasons of the year in France

The notion of the season has been known since the Ancient Times.

In the 3rd century BC, the astronomer and mathematician Eratosthenes managed to calculate the inclination of the earth’s axis, the phenomenon responsible for the seasons.

Then, astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea discovered the precession of the equinoxes in the 2nd century AD.

The seasons of the year in Greek mythology

The cycle of the seasons is also present in Greek mythology with the myth of Persephone.

Daughter of Zeus and Demeter, she married against her will the god Hades who held her prisoner in the underworld.

Wanting to recover her daughter, Demeter, goddess of agriculture and harvests, stopped making the earth bear fruit.

In order not to let the world die, a compromise was found between Zeus, Hades and Demeter: Persephone had to spend six months in the underworld and six months on Earth.

These two periods represent winter and summer.

Field at the Ecomusée d'Alsace © French Moments

A field in Alsace © French Moments

The seasons of the year and French traditions

In French traditions, the seasons or the changes of seasons are marked by festivals. These celebrations sometimes go back to the dawn of time.

In the rural world, some of these festivals had enormous social and religious importance. Nowadays, the emphasis is more on their festive and/or commercial aspect.

Seasons of the year in France - Christmas in Wissembourg © French Moments

Christmas in Wissembourg, Alsace © French Moments

Find out more about holidays and celebrations in France…


The dates of the four seasons in France

Here are the dates of the seasons of the year 2021, starting with the winter season:

  • Winter will end on Friday, March 19, 2021.
  • Spring will take place from Saturday 20 March to Sunday 20 June 2021.
  • Summer will take place from Monday 21 June to Tuesday 21 September 2021.
  • Autumn will take place from Wednesday 22 September to Monday 20 December 2021.

The dates of the seasons are based on the dates of the equinoxes and solstices provided by the Institute of Celestial Mechanics and Ephemeris Calculation.


Staggered seasons in question

As a result of recent observation, there seems to be a discrepancy between the official dates of the seasons and the weather.

Seasons of the year in France - Paris © French Moments

Exotic Paris! © French Moments

A study carried out by the Weather Channel for the years 2000/2013 confirmed this fact by indicating that there would be a gap of about 20% in relation to the dates on the calendar.

  • Winter would generally cover a period from 1 December to 28 February.
  • Spring would begin on 1 March and end on 31 May.
  • Summer would be between June 1 and August 31.
  • Autumn would begin on September 1 and end on November 30.

The seasons in France in French

Let’s learn about the 12 months and 4 seasons in France… in French, starting with winter.

Note that all seasons are masculine and are therefore preceded with the article le or l’.

WINTER = L’HIVER

  • January = Janvier
  • February = Février
  • March = Mars

SPRING = LE PRINTEMPS

  • April = Avril
  • May = Mai
  • June = Juin

SUMMER = L’ÉTÉ

  • July = Juillet
  • August = Août [pronounced ‘out’]
  • September = Septembre

AUTUMN/FALL = L’AUTOMNE

  • October = Octobre
  • November = Novembre
  • December = Décembre

In addition, here are the seven days of the week in French:

  • Monday = Lundi
  • Tuesday = Mardi
  • Wednesday = Mercredi
  • Thursday = Jeudi
  • Friday = Vendredi
  • Saturday = Samedi
  • Sunday = Dimanche

All weekdays are masculine and are preceded with the article le.


The four seasons of the year in France

Click on the images below to reach our dedicated pages on the seasons of France.

Winter – l’hiver

Sundgau Winter 71 © French Moments

December-January-February-March

Spring – le printemps

Pommier Alsace 01 © French Moments

March-April-May-June

Summer – l’été

Summer in Paris © French Moments

June-July-August-September

Autumn – l’automne

Autumn in Parc Monceau © French Moments

September-October-November-December


Pictures of the seasons of the year in France

Here are more photos of the seasons of the year in France, starting with winter.

Seasons of the year in France - Nancy in the snow © French Moments

Winter in Nancy © French moments

Seasons of the year in France - Ferrette in Winter © French Moments

Ferrette (Alsace) in Winter © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Eiffel Tower in Winter © French Moments

Winter Wonderland in Paris © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Thorens-Glières in the snow © French Moments

A village in the French Alps © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Paris © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France – Spring in Paris © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Pernes-les-Fontaines © French Moments

Spring in Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence © French Moments

Spring in Lorraine (Village of Lucey, Toulois) © French Moments

Spring in Lorraine © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Spring in the French Alps © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France – Spring in the French Alps near Annecy © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Summer in Paris

Seasons of the year in France – Summer in Paris © French Moments

Summer in the Dordogne River at Beynac © French Moments

The Dordogne River at Beynac in summer © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - summer in the French Alps © French Moments

The French Alps in summer © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Metz © French Moments

Metz (Lorraine) in summer © French Moments

Quais de la Seine, Paris © French Moments

Autumn in Paris © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Chateau de Joux in the Jura © French Moments

Castle of Joux in the Jura in Autumn © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - Autumn in the French Alps © French Moments

The French Alps in autumn (Tarentaise) © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France - autumn in Alsace © French Moments

Seasons of the year in France – autumn in Alsace © French Moments

Want to see more photos of the four seasons in France?

Check out our French blog:


The Four Seasons in art

The seasons have always inspired artists such as painters and composers. The most famous musical illustration of the seasons is undoubtedly Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Composed around 1716-1717, this grandiose universal hymn to nature is one of the major works in the history of classical music. Indeed, it has been a huge worldwide success since its first performance in London and Paris in 1728.


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Seasons of the year in France

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

6 Comments

  1. Hello! my son and I are researching how to move to FRANCE. I am in the U.S. if we want to stay longer should we get a student visa since working there right away would be difficult while looking for a place? Can you recommend a town? I AM FROM NEW YORK CITY ORIGINALLY.THANK YOU!

    • Bonjour Anna! Thank you very much for your comment. Although I do not have the answer to your enquiry about student visas, you might get some useful info on this forum dedicated to expats living (or wanting to live) in France: http://www.expatforum.com/expats/france-expat-forum-expats-living-france/
      As for recommending a town, it’s a hard one to reply as there are so many towns (except Paris) that can be listed. Some of the favourite towns we’ve visited are Aix-en-Provence, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Annecy, La Rochelle, Tours… you might be interested in Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse, Nice, Avignon, Montpellier or Nancy. All the best!

  2. Hello Pierre!

    My name is Brittney. I am from Oklahoma City, OK, USA. I was wanting to elope in the french alps! This seasonal chart definitely helped! I was wondering, do the alps follow the same seasonal patterns? I was looking to get married in between January and April. What would your recommendations be? Also, can you give me some insight on resources I could look into for other things weather, hotel, wedding, travel related? Thank you! x

    • Bonjour Brittney. First I wanted to apologize for replying to your comment so late… I just didn’t see it coming through my wall! If you’d like to go to the Alps between January and April, it will definitely be Winter (and cold!). In April, places like Annecy are just wonderful with the coming of Spring. I highly recommend it. Annecy and its beautiful lake are surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Alps and are a perfect setting for a wedding! Check out our article for more info+photos: https://frenchmoments.eu/annecy/ . The Tourist Office of Annecy should be very helpful too: http://en.lac-annecy.com/ Contact them by email about your project and they should help you with a list of places to stay, etc. Personally, I know one or two places by the lake that are very popular for wedding celebrations: Hôtel L’Impérial (Annecy) http://www.hotel-imperial-palace.com/en and Hôtel de l’Abbaye de Talloires (Talloires) http://www.abbaye-talloires.com/en. Let me know if you need any more advise, I’d be happy to help. Have a great day. Pierre

  3. hello I want to study in France, can you please recommend a university for me, thanks

    • Hi Miriam, I’d love to help you but this is a very general question as there are so many universities in France where you can study. It also depends on the destinations. Paris’ La Sorbonne is maybe the most famous one… but the rest of France has some great uni too: Strasbourg, Nancy, Montpellier, Lyon, Lille, Nantes, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice… the choice is vast! 🙂

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