The Weather in France
The weather is always one of those things that is totally beyond your control. This page outlines the typical weather in France at different times of the year in different locations. It also provides links to some of the resources we have found useful on our trips to France.
Four climate zones
France is split into four main climatic zones. The eastern side of the country is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean resulting in milder temperatures and higher rainfall. Rainfall is spread evenly across the year. The continental landmass influences the west of the country leading to hotter summers and colder winters. Rain is much more seasonal falling predominantly in the cooler months. The Mediterranean is characterized by hot summers and cold winters. Rainfall is less in this region and the cooler months experience the most rain. The last regions are the mountain ranges. The weather in these areas is much more unstable and storms are likely in the summer months. Temperatures are generally cooler than other areas in summer and snow falls on the peaks in the winter months.
We have traveled to France in July, August, and September and have never had our plans significantly altered by the weather. The rainy days we have had are always a great opportunity to catch up on some washing and generally take things easy.
Weather forecasts in France
There are various apps and websites that provide weather information once you are in France. You can start checking the weather before your departure to give you a better idea of what is in store. Generally speaking, you will get a 7 to 14 days forecast in advance on most services. Listed below are some of the sites we have found useful on our travels. It is by no means an exhaustive list and there are others out there that you may already use.
Useful apps and sites
windy.com provides a range of weather information and forward forecasts as well as rain radars. Its focus is on wind forecasts and as such provides a handy animation of wind speed and direction. It is available online and as an app on both the Android and Apple platforms.
accuweather.com provides future forecasts on an hourly and daily basis as well as rain radars and the usual data. It is also available online and as an app on Android and Apple.
meteofrance.com is the official meteorological service for the country. The website is in French only although you can generally navigate around it or use Google’s translate option to assist. An app is offered in both Android and Apple.
france-montagnes.com provides a range of information about the mountain areas of France including the weather. It covers the Alps, the Pyrénées, Vosges, Massif Central and Jura ranges. The weather information is a little more limited but still a great resource to see what current conditions are like.
Webcams are another great resource to see what is happening in real-time at a particular location. Ski resorts all have webcams that operate year-round to provide a handy insight into current conditions. It is not unusual for a valley to be grey and cloud-covered and the mountain tops experience a clear blue sky.
The weather in the mountains can change very quickly and summer storms are a feature of these areas. Temperatures in summer are still nice and warm especially in the valleys where it can reach low 30C’s. The temperature generally decreases the higher you go so pack accordingly.
Rain is spread reasonably evenly across the year but you can expect plenty of sunny weather. Wind speed increases during the day as the temperature rises and draws the cooler air up the valleys. Expect headwinds as you go back down the valleys.
The riding season is dependant on the snow each year. If you are planning to travel after October or before May it would pay to check road closures in the area you are planning to visit.
If you are visiting these areas we recommend packing some warmer clothes as well. When cycling a gilet and arm warmers are a necessary addition, especially as you descend back down the mountains. Expect cooler nights and mornings with the possibility of some cooler days. You can check forecasts before you leave to get a better idea of what is likely during your stay.
The Mediterranean and Provence
Summer temperatures in the low 30’s and lots of sunny days are the norms for this region. The cooler months experience the most rain days leaving summer nice and dry. Humidity is quite high here reaching into the low 80’s (%) meaning the days feel hotter than they are. Average maximums during the summer hover around 27 degrees celsius (81F) while nighttime temperatures average 20 degrees celsius (68F).
As you move inland slightly to the Provence region the humidity drops and the temperature increases. Expect hot days and warm nights. Again rain is confined to the cooler months so sunshine is the norm over summer. Daytime temperatures in summer can reach the high 30’s (86F) while nigh time temperatures average 18C (64F).
Summer clothes are all that you need in these areas. Riding earlier in the morning before the day gets too hot is definitely recommended and be sure to pack sunscreen.
The Atlantic coast
Characterized by milder temperatures, compared to the Mediterranean, this region of France is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. Summer temperatures are only a few degrees lower than other areas but the chance of a rainy day is higher. As you move from north to south the temperatures increase slightly. Overnight temperatures average 15C (59F) in the summer months while daytime temperatures average 26C (79F).
A rain jacket is definitely recommended for this area. As the nights can get a little cooler at times some warmer options will not go astray. The milder daytime temperatures make for pleasant riding.