France is situated in the Northern Hemisphere and, like its neighbouring European nations, goes through a cycle of four distinctive seasons. Let’s look closely at the seasons of the year in France with some interesting facts…
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What is a season in France?
The Earth revolves around the Sun for 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 Ancient Times.
In the 3rd century BC, the astronomer and mathematician Eratosthenes calculated 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.
To avoid letting 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.
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.
- Winter: Christmas
- Spring: Easter
- Summer: Saint John’s Day, and much more recently, the Fête de la Musique (Music World Day).
- Autumn: Toussaint (All Saints’ Day)
Some of these festivals had enormous social and religious importance in the rural world. Nowadays, the emphasis is more on their festive and/or commercial aspects.
The dates of the four seasons in France
Here are the dates of the seasons of the year 2023, starting with the winter season:
- Winter will end on March 20, 2023.
- Spring will take place from 20 March to 21 June 2023.
- Summer will take place from 21 June to 23 September 2023.
- Autumn will take place from 23 September to 21 December 2023.
The seasons’ dates are based on the equinoxes and solstices provided by the Institute of Celestial Mechanics and Ephemeris Calculation.
Staggered seasons in question
As a result of recent observations, there seems to be a discrepancy between the official dates of the seasons and the weather.
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 by 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
The seven days of the week
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.
Pictures of the seasons of the year in France
Here are more photos of the seasons of the year in France, starting with winter.
Want to see more photos of the four seasons in France?
Check out our French blog Mon Grand-Est:
Get the ebook Holidays & Celebrations in France!
288 pages – 117 illustrations
In this book, Pierre reveals the secrets of French celebrations, from the most famous to the least known. It is a cultural journey into French customs and traditions that will satisfy those curious and lovers of France.
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 Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
Composed around 1716-1717, this grandiose universal hymn to nature is one of the significant 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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