Monthly weather forecast and climate
France

Flag of France
Flag of France

The climate of France

France has a predominantly oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa, Cfb). The southeast, including the island of Corsica, has a mainly Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa, Csb), with a few arid swathes (Köppen BSk). The highlands and mountains in the east experience alpine climates (Köppen Df variants and ET). France occupies a significant portion of Western Europe and has several overseas territories that lie in different time zones. Land borders include Spain and Andorra in the south, Italy, and Switzerland in the east, and Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg in the northeast. The Mediterranean Sea in the southeast, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the English Channel in the northwest, and the North Sea in the north, form the water boundaries. The location in the northern temperate zone and proximity to vast bodies of water influence the climate.

France has a diverse topography that consists of mountain ranges in the south and east, and coastal plains in the north and west. The Massif Central range lies in the south-central portion, while the Pyrenees are in the southwest. The valleys and river basins in the southwest and north have the most fertile grounds. The coastline of the French Riviera has a landscape overlooking mountain ranges, while the coast of Languedoc has sandy plains nearby. Rhone, Loire, Garonne, and Seine rivers and their tributaries constitute the four major river systems. Many of the rivers flow into the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Mont Blanc, on the border of the French-Italian Alps, with an altitude of 4810 meters, is the highest peak in France.

Summers are mostly warm, while winters are cold in France. The Atlantic Coast is usually cool and wet, with rain throughout the year. The northern coast near the English Channel is colder than the western coast, with average temperatures below 5°C (41°F) in January. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing on the western Atlantic coastal region in the winter, while summer highs mostly remain below 30°C (86°F). The south Atlantic region is mild and sunny than the north but is prone to frost in the winter due to cold winds from the northeast.

The interior areas, such as Paris, are generally cold in the winter and hot in summer. Temperatures above 32.2°C (90°F) are typical, as are those below -6.7°C (19.9°F), with snow or frost. Paris receives 635mm (25") of rain annually throughout the year. The northeast region is cold, while the central-east is temperate. Cold spells and snowfall occur during the winter, and heat waves are frequent during the summer. The eastern region has moderate winters, but the Rhine corridor sees cold winters, with regular snowfall. The mountainous region is the coldest, with frequent snowfall in the winter, and thunderstorms in the summer. The southeast portion of France has a mild and sunny climate. The areas near the Mediterranean Sea have hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.

The annual precipitation in France ranges from 635mm (25") to 1016mm (40") and occurs evenly throughout the year. The Atlantic coast receives the highest rainfall, while the mountains in the east gather larges deposits of snow. The annual sunshine in France is between 1600 to over 2800 hours, with the longest days in June and the shortest in December. Lille in the northeast averages 1617 hours, while Toulon in the southeast receives 2839 hours of sunshine annually. The sea temperatures are cold to mild and are usually between 7.2°C (45°F) to 23.9°C (75°F), with the Mediterranean coast much warmer than the Atlantic. A significant amount of snowfall occurs in the high mountains, while the lowlands mostly receive frost.

The highest recorded temperature in France is 46°C (114.8°F), set on June 28, 2019, in Verargues, Herault. The lowest temperature on record is -23.2°C (-9.8°F), set on January 2, 1971, in Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin.

The best time to visit France

The best time to visit France is from mid-May to June in spring and September in the autumn. The Mediterranean region has mild temperatures in the shoulder seasons and is relatively less rainy. The summer is also a good time for beach holidays on the Atlantic coast in July and August, with warm sunshine. The inland areas, southeast, and Corsica are particularly prone to heatwaves during the hot season. Skiing enthusiasts find February and March to their liking when the days are longer than peak winter season, and there is ample snow. High altitude mountain resorts remain open even in the summer, with the availability of snow.

The worst time to visit France

The worst time to visit France is generally in the winter from December to February. The cold winds from Eastern Europe have a substantial impact on the temperatures. Snowfall is abundant in the mountains, and there is a risk of avalanches. Frosty conditions keep the nights and early mornings chilly. The days are short in the winter, and the sunshine limits to less than 4 hours in many places. However, winter is mild in some areas, particularly near the Mediterranean Sea, where the mountains offer a barrier to cold winds. Visits to places with mild conditions are usually less costly in the winter and offer plenty of deals for budget travelers.

Weather hazards

France faces weather hazards in the form of storms, floods, wildfires, mudslides, droughts, avalanches, and earthquakes. Floods and droughts are standard on the mainland, with significant loss to life and property. An average of 8 to 10 major floods occurs annually in the country. Cyclones, avalanches, and earthquakes occur occasionally but are more frequent in the southeast compared to the north and west. Hailstorms occasionally occur to decimate crops in southeast France. Mediterranean France has a higher hazard risk than the relatively safer northern continental region. Tropical French islands suffer a much higher risk of storms than the mainland. Heatwaves and cold spells are common in France due to its geographical location.

Weather in January

January is the coldest month of the year in France, with freezing nights in the north and west regions. Paris, the capital, in the central region, is cold, with average temperatures in the 2.8°C (37°F) to 7.2°C (45°F) zone. Weather in January »

Weather in February

February is cold in France, with the landscape generally devoid of sunshine. Bordeaux, near the Atlantic coast, is cold and wet, with average temperatures in the 2.8°C (37°F) to 12.2°C (54°F) range. Cold winds from the northeast bring frost to the southwest coastal region. Weather in February »

Weather in March

March is the beginning of the beautiful spring season in France, with milder temperatures and warm sunshine. Sunny conditions prevail in the south with at least 6 hours of daily sunshine in the southeast. Marseille, Montpellier, and Nice register temperatures in the mild 5°C (41°F) to 15.6°C (60.1°F) zone. The majority of France receives 25.4mm (1") to 76.2mm (3") of rainfall. Weather in March »

Weather in April

April is a glorious month in France, as the land bathes in the rays of the warm sun. The majority of the regions in the south see sunny days, with 7 hours of daily sunshine. The average temperatures in the southern towns of Toulon and Toulouse are in the beautiful range of 7.2°C (45°F) to 18.3°C (64.9°F). The advance of the spring instills the sweet aroma of soil and blossoming flowers in the air. Weather in April »

Weather in May

May is sunny and beautiful in France as the skies remain blue most of the time. The daily sunshine lasts for more than 7 hours, even in the cold places of the continental north. The average temperatures in the north are between a mild 8.9°C (48°F) to warm 20°C (68°F), with an occasional cold spell from Eastern Europe. Expect eight to ten moderately wet days in the month, and keep a light jacket at hand. Weather in May »

Weather in June

June is the beginning of the warm and wet summer season in France, with bright skies amid moderate rainfall. The sunshine lasts for more than 10 hours in Corsica and at least 8 hours in the wettest places. The average temperatures are in the 10°C (50°F) to 28.3°C (82.9°F) in the majority of France. Much of the southwest sees at least 88.9mm (3.5") of rain, while the northeast is slightly wetter with an average of 101.6mm (4"). Weather in June »

Weather in July

July is the hottest and sunniest month in France, with frequent hot waves and more than 10 hours of sunshine. The average temperatures in Marseille in the southeast are between 19.4°C (66.9°F) to 30°C (86°F). Biarritz, in the southwest, ranges from 16.7°C (62.1°F) to 23.9°C (75°F), while Brest in the northwest is mild between 13.3°C (55.9°F) to 20.6°C (69.1°F). The skies are clear, with moderate rainfall between 25.4mm (1") to 76.2mm (3"). Weather in July »

Weather in August

August is a hot summer month in France, with plenty of sunlight. The seawater is warm, with average temperatures between 21.1°C (70°F) to 23.9°C (75°F). Lyon, in the southeast, registers between 16.1°C (61°F) to 27.2°C (81°F), while Paris in the central region remains warm in the 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 25°C (77°F) range. The rainfall is relatively low, with many places registering between 25.4mm (1") to 76.2mm (3") of precipitation. Weather in August »

Weather in September

September is one of the best times to visit France, with the green countryside, beautiful colors, and many sunny days. The heat index is significantly down, but there is a slight increase in precipitation. Much of France receives 50.8mm (2") to 127mm (5") of rainfall. The average temperatures in Lille in the northeast are between 11.1°C (52°F) to 19.4°C (66.9°F), while Strasbourg in the northeast is in the 10.6°C (51.1°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) zone. Weather in September »

Weather in October

October is the peak month of the fall foliage in France, with lovely weather and adequate sunshine. The beautiful autumn paints the landscape in majestic colors and brings flora and fauna to life. Mountains, rivers, and land combine in the lap of nature to bring fairy-tale sceneries to reality. Grenoble, in the southeast, registers mild temperatures in the 7.8°C (46°F) to 16.7°C (62.1°F) zone. Weather in October »

Weather in November

November is the wettest month of the year in France, with a few places registering as much as 177.8mm (7"). The conditions tend to be on the colder side by the second half of November, as the sunlight lasts less than 5 hours in many places. Bourg-Saint-Maurice, in the southeast, registers average temperatures in the cold 0.6°C (33.1°F) to 9.4°C (48.9°F) region, with occasional freezing nights. Weather in November »

Weather in December

December begins the cold and wet winter in France, with a general lack of sunshine. The northwest registers average temperatures in the chilly range of 1.7°C (35.1°F) to 9.4°C (48.9°F). Much of France receives 50.8mm (2") to 101.6mm (4") of precipitation, with frost in many places. Weather in December »
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