There are a number of diverse climates in France, each featuring certain characteristics that you need to prepare for. Wherever you’re traveling to in France, packing accordingly will make your trip go better overall. Here are some general tips for what to wear depending on which season and region you’ll be visiting.
Geography of France
France covers an area of 248,573 mi², and is the largest country in the European Union. Metropolitan France has over 2,100 miles of coastline, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the English Channel. With the exception of its northeastern border, the country is mostly surrounded by seas, oceans and other natural borders like the Rhine river, and the Jura, Alps and Pyrénées mountain ranges.
Climate of France
In general, France has a pleasantly temperate climate. France is split into four distinct climate regions:
- Oceanic climate (western France): This region sees normal rainfall scattered over many days and features modest annual temperature fluctuations.
- Continental climate (central and eastern France): This region features cold winters and hot summers.
- Mediterranean climate (south eastern France): South eastern France features warm and dry summers. Damp but mild weather and rainfall in October to April and steady sunshine throughout the year.
- Mountain climate (at or above 600-800m altitudes): High amounts of rainfall, snow falls three to six months per year.
Best Time To Visit
Overall, France is a popular year-round destination, with an agreeable climate in most regions of the country. Summer (June-August) is the peak season for tourists, when it is warm and sunny at many of the popular destinations.
Southern France is balmy during its spring, from March to May, and during the fall, from September to October. These are less popular times to visit, meaning prices are considerably lower. Tourism picks back up from December to March throughout ski season at major resorts in places like the Alps and Pyrénées.
The northeastern region will see warmer summers and colder winters. In the western coastal destinations, the Atlantic affects the climate where the weather is generally mild with rainfall throughout the year. Prepare for hot and sunny summers if you’re planning on visiting this region, remember to pack sunscreen and a hat.
For the summer in all areas, you should pack light, breathable clothing. You should bring waterproof winter gear if you’re visiting the mountains, all year round. In winter, even in the Mediterranean part, you’ll need a sweatshirt or jacket for the nighttime.
Packing for the Weather
When packing for the weather in France, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind:
- The weather in France can change quickly, so dressing in layers is important to fight fluctuating temperatures.
- It’s always smart to pack a travel umbrella and a lightweight raincoat to fend off any rain that might suddenly appear.
- Winter can bring sub-freezing temperatures, so dress accordingly by bringing your coat, gloves, hat, scarf and other winter clothing.
- In summer, throughout the country, wear sunscreen, bring sunglasses and a sunhat.
- In the cooler spring season, bring semi-warm clothing and dress in layers to protect from chilly days.
General Style Tips
France is the home of fashion – if you’re a tourist, you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. Follow these general style tips to fit in with the trends of style culture:
- Go for a smart, chic, stylish look. Tailored or well-fitting clothes will serve better than baggy clothes or t-shirts with logos.
- Black always is in style in France.
- If you are traveling to any of the big cities, leave your swimsuit at home – there are few places to use it.
- Beyond Paris and other cities, such as the countryside and the beach, dress is normally more relaxed, conservative and practical, but still smart and stylish.
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