Last Updated: 6 March 2024

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Summer in France resounds like a magic word to the French as it refers to well-deserved holidays spent in one of the many beautiful locations in France. Whether by the sea or in the mountains, visiting cities or exploring the rolling hills of the French countryside, having holidays in France when summer is in full swing will reveal itself as an unforgettable experience.


About Summer in France

The countryside of Lorraine in Summer © French Moments
The Countryside of Lorraine in Summer © French Moments

Summer in France is known as ‘été’, from the Latin word ‘aestas’ (meaning ‘time of the heat’).

Driving through rural France reveals many beautiful flowers blooming in fields, meadows, and forests all over the country.

Plage des minimes La Rochelle © French Moments
Plage des minimes La Rochelle © French Moments

The French usually take their holidays between 15 July and 15 August.

Holidaymakers from Northern France traditionally migrate south to the Mediterranean or the Atlantic beaches, causing enormous traffic jams along the motorways and roads.

Seaside resorts such as La Baule, Les Sables d’Olonne, Arcachon, Biarritz, Le Cap d’Agde, La Grande-Motte, Fréjus, Cannes, Nice, and Menton can be incredibly busy with visitors who flock there in their millions from France and northern European countries to soak up the sun. Visitors can also find water activities on the mainland in countless lakes and rivers.

The village of Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments
The village of Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments

The downside of coming to France in summer can be the hoards of visitors flooding into France’s major tourist regions (Provence, the French Riviera, Languedoc, Périgord, and the châteaux of the Loire), the higher cost of airfares and accommodation, and some scorching days that can last one or two weeks (‘la canicule’).

In popular tourist sites such as Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Rocamadour and Saint-Tropez, souvenir shops and restaurants make a roaring trade.

Some shops may be closed in cities and villages for a whole month.


👉 Thinking of booking your summer holiday to France? Don’t forget to check out the latest P&O Ferries voucher codes to make sure you don’t miss out on a travel bargain.


Calendar of Summer in France

Summer in France is the year’s season when many festivals and events are organised, with two highlights: the Tour de France bicycle race and the national celebration of Bastille Day.


Summer in France Calendar

  • 20 June – the beginning of summer
  • third Sunday of June – Fathers’ Day (Fête des Pères)
  • 21 June – Fête de la Musique (World Music Day)
  • 24 June – St. John’s Eve (Fête de la Saint-Jean)
  • 14 July – Bastille Day (known in France as “Le 14 juillet” or “Fête Nationale”)
  • 15 August – Assumption Day (Jour de l’Assomption), a public holiday in France
  • Beginning of September – la Rentrée (return to school)
  • 21 September – the start of autumn


Popular events in France during the summer

Fête de la Musique in Paris © French Moments
Fête de la Musique in Paris © French Moments

Here is a short selection of the main events taking place in France.

  • The 24 Hours of Le Mans (24 Heures du Mans) in June, the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, is held annually in Le Mans. The race is considered one of the world’s most prestigious automobile races.
  • Eurockéennes Festival of Belfort (Eurockéennes de Belfort) in July, one of France’s largest rock music festivals in Belfort.
  • Avignon Festival (Festival d’Avignon) in July is an annual arts festival held in the courtyard of the Popes’ Palace.
  • Tour de France in June and July is the most famous bicycle race that always ends in the Champs-Élysées, Paris.
  • Francofolies of La Rochelle in July, an annual music festival held in La Rochelle which aims at promoting francophone music.
  • The Vieilles Charrues Festival (literally: the Old Ploughs Festival) in July is held in Carhaix, Brittany, France. It is one of the largest music festivals in France.
  • Paris-Plages in July-August, a temporary artificial beach created each summer along the river Seine in the centre of Paris.
  • The Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient (Festival Interceltique de Lorient) in August an annual festival in Lorient, Brittany, dedicated to the cultural traditions of the Celtic nations.
  • The Lake Festival (Fête du Lac) is in August, and it is one of Europe’s biggest fireworks displays above Lake Annecy.
  • Rock en Seine Festival in August, the last largest rock music festival of the summer held at the park of Saint-Cloud, west of Paris.
  • Deauville American Film Festival (Festival du cinéma américain de Deauville) in September, a yearly film festival devoted to American cinema, takes place in Deauville, Normandy.
  • Braderie de Lille in September, one of the biggest flea markets in Europe, attracts more than 2 million visitors.


Summer in France: the weather

Although temperatures vary across France, summer is generally a warm season in all places, whether on the plains, in the hills, or in the mountains. There are many long and hot blue-sky days. Evenings are warm to slightly chilly, depending on the location.

Summer storm in Alsace © French Moments
Summer storm in Alsace © French Moments

June and the beginning of July are usually mild and pleasant. Although visitors can count on beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures, this is a time when summer storms can be surprisingly violent.

Beynac Castle © French Moments
Beynac Castle © French Moments

From mid-July to mid-August, the weather is usually glorious throughout the country. It tends to be consistently very hot, with possible heat waves (la canicule) lasting several days or weeks. In Paris, it can get muggy and quite sticky.

View from the castle of Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments
View from the castle of Les Baux-de-Provence © French Moments

The weather can be scorching in the sun-drenched valleys and plains of Provence, Languedoc and Corsica.

Days can be particularly humid in the great northeast of France (Champagne, Burgundy, Franche-Comté, Lorraine, and Alsace), as these regions are exposed to a semi-continental climate.


Visiting France in the summer

Summer is one of the best periods to visit France, from the Mediterranean beaches to the glamorous French capital and the majestic Alps. A fun and festive vacation atmosphere can be felt throughout the entire country.

The French coastline includes thousands of kilometres of excellent beaches and towering cliffs bordered by three seas: the North, Atlantic, and Mediterranean.


Cities and towns of France

Walking in the Tuileries Garden © French Moments
Walking in the Tuileries Garden © French Moments

Suppose you want to hit the hustle and bustle of French cities while relaxing on one of the many pavement cafés and restaurant terraces. In that case, summer is ideal as some of them (particularly in Paris) will be deserted by the locals.

One of the best reasons to visit France in summer is that all museums and attractions are open with extended summertime hours.


Parks and Gardens

Funfair at the Tuileries © French Moments
Funfair at the Tuileries © French Moments

Parks and gardens show their best colours and scents with glorious examples in Marqueyssac and Eyrignac in the Périgord, the Luxembourg and Tuileries Gardens in Paris, Villandry in the Loire Valley and Monet’s Garden in Normandy.

It is a pleasure to stroll in France’s gardens eating fresh waffles (gaufres) or creamy ice-creams.


Festivals and summer events

Music Band near Notre-Dame de Paris © French Moments
Music Band near Notre-Dame de Paris © French Moments

In rural France, villages often run local festivals reminiscent of their old traditions.

The long summer days ending with late, warm evenings provide great opportunities to attend music festivals (particularly jazz music) and outdoor events such as markets offering their best fresh produce, dancing balls and spectacular light shows.


Spectacular lights show

Light Show on Place Stanislas, Nancy © French Moments
Light Show on Place Stanislas, Nancy © French Moments

For many years, French towns and tourist sites have run spectacular light shows at nightfall:

They are all magnificently enhanced with hi-tech lights and sound.


Camping in France

For a large part of the French population, summer holidays are synonymous with camping in one of the numerous camping grounds classified by a government-regulated star rating system.

Camping is part of the French culture, and one of its attractions is its reasonably cheap accommodation.

Upscale camping sites are usually found along the coasts where the weather is conducive to sleeping in a tent.

The recent French movies “Camping 1”, “Camping 2” and “Camping 3” starring Franck Dubosc relate to this experience shared by millions of French people each summer.


Barge cruising in France

Summer in France
Summer in France: barge cruising on the Canal du Midi © J. Rayner – French Moments

A network of interconnecting canals crisscrosses the country for the delight of barge cruises.

More and more visitors enjoy this popular and relaxing way to explore the wonderful scenery of the French countryside.

The most famous canals are:

  • the Unesco-listed Canal du Midi (linking Montpellier to Toulouse),
  • Canal de la Marne au Rhin,
  • Canal du Rhône au Rhin and
  • Canal de Bourgogne (the last three are in France’s northeast).


English-French Vocabulary

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • Assumption Day = Jour de l’Assomption (m)
  • autumn = automne (m)
  • Bastille Day = Fête Nationale (f)
  • beach = plage (f)
  • butterfly = papillon (m)
  • Father’s Day = Fête des Pères (f)
  • field = champ (m)
  • flower = fleur (f)
  • forest = forêt (f)
  • fruit = fruit (m)
  • garden = jardin (m)
  • harvest = récolte (f)
  • holidays = vacances (f,p)
  • Indian summer = été indien (m)
  • leaf = feuille (f)
  • leave = congé (m)
  • meadow = prairie (m), pré (f)
  • plant = plante (f)
  • rain = pluie (f)
  • season = saison (f)
  • sparrow = hirondelle (f)
  • spring = printemps (m)
  • St. John’s Eve = Fête de la Saint-Jean (f)
  • summer = été (m)
  • summer hit = tube de l’été (m)
  • sun = soleil (m)
  • tree = arbre (m)
  • vegetable = légume (m)
  • winter = hiver (m)
  • wood = bois (m)

Holidays and Celebrations in France

Learn more about the seasons, celebrations and public holidays in France:

About the 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 Discovery Courses and books about France.

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