Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Summer in France
Summer is a fantastic time to visit France. The warm weather, bright sun, good food, and relaxed lifestyle are guaranteed in any summer vacation in France.
However, deciding where to go in France in summer isn’t easy. There’s just too much choice. We should know, we live in France, and we can still never decide where to go for the next long weekend!
So to help you out, we have curated the nine best places to visit in France in summer, a list of our favorite favorites that will absolutely take your breath away. You can visit all of these places independently, and they are good for either a summer break in France or a more extended France summer vacation.
Get your bathing suit and walking shoes packed, and prepare for fun days and even more exciting evenings!
When is summer in France? The summer season in France corresponds to June, July, and August, even if summer in France officially starts on 21 June.
Need help planning your trip to France?
- Check out our France Trip Planner
- We use Omio or Trainline to book our train tickets; both sites are good, with lots of information in English
- Booking.com offers the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets
- Discover Cars is a great site because it takes all of the major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, etc., and more, and makes the comparison of prices for you
- HeyMondo offers travelers insurance that combines medical and travel-related coverage for single trips, annual multi-trip, and extended stays (with Covid-19 coverage included). Use this link to get a 5% off
Best Places to Visit in France in Summer
Our list of France summer ideas includes:
- Where to Go in France in June /Best Places to Visit in France in June
- Where to Go in France in July /Best Places to Visit in France in July
- Where to Go in France in August /Best Places to Visit in France in August
1. Provence’s Lavender Fields
Provence in summer is HOT and busy, but it is the right time to visit if you want to see the lavender fields. Nicknamed “the blue gold,” the lavender fields are among the top places to visit in Provence.
This is one of the best places to visit in France in June and July — when the lavender fields are in full bloom. There are four main areas to see lavender in Provence; check out our quick guide to Provence’s lavender fields, with everything you need to know for a total Provencal experience.
Aix-en-Provence and Avignon are two good basecamps for the lavender fields. The best way to explore the lavender fields is by car — we recommend booking with Discover Cars — but there are also lavender tours with transportation from these cities.
2. The Alabaster Coast, Normandy
From Dieppe to Étretat, the Alabaster Coast in Normandy is a land of majestic cliffs, pretty beaches, and picturesque fishing villages.
The Alabaster Coast is also the land of Impressionists, where artists like Monet, Turner, and Pissarro painted “en plein air” to capture the beauty of its chalky cliffs.
This is one of the best places to visit in France in the summer, with the ideal weather to enjoy this amazing landscape unique in the world, explore some of the prettiest coastal towns in France, and taste the regional cuisine.
The best way to explore the Alabaster Coast is on a Normandy road trip, but it is also possible to travel to any of these destinations from Le Havre by bus.
3. Summer in the French Alps
If you’re looking for a pastoral paradise in France in the summer, head up to the French Alps. This unique mountain range is home to magnificent landscapes, pristine lakes, and beautiful hikes.
Nature lovers will be delighted in the French Alps: the national parks of Vanoise, Ecrins, and Mercantour are amazing.
Sports enthusiasts will be spoilt for the choice during their French Alps summer holidays: mountaineering in the Massif de Mont-Blanc, paragliding above Lake Annecy, rafting & kayaking in the upper Ubaye Valley, and an endless list of beautiful hikes.
Are you looking for a more relaxing summer in France? No problem. Places like Annecy, Briançon, Yvoire, or Chamonix are great for sightseeing and culinary treats.
4. Gulf of Morbihan, Brittany
With its many islands and islets, a microclimate that warms the sea, and its sweet life, the Gulf of Morbihan is one of Brittany’s most beautiful landscapes to discover during summer in France.
Morbihan means “little sea” in the local language, a place where it is possible to sail or kayak protected from the vagaries of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, you can visit vibrant cities, mysterious castles, prehistoric sites, and some of the prettiest coastal towns.
Finally, the Gulf of Morbihan is an excellent place to fully immerse in Brittany’s culinary heritage: seafood, crêpes, and other traditional dishes.
The best way to explore the Gulf of Morbihan is on a self-drive holiday, but you can also put your bags in Vannes and visit other places on day trips.
5. The Volcanoes of Auvergne
In summer, France is a good destination for enjoying the mountains. Summers in the land of the dormant volcanos are lovely, with mild temperatures and chilly nights due to the altitude and topography.
This was the first place in France (mainland) to be listed as UNESCO Natural Heritage, and it features striking scenery, including as many as 80 dormant volcanoes, crater lakes, forests, rivers, and thermal springs.
The range’s highest point is the iconic lava dome of Puy de Dôme, which stands at 1,465 meters high. From there, there’s an amazing bird’s eye view over the Regional Natural Park of the Volcanoes of Auvergne, the Dorez Mountains, and the Mountains of Cantal, waiting to be explored on day hikes or longer walks.
The striking volcano formations also provide stunning sites or backgrounds for picturesque medieval churches and villages like Saint-Flour, Le Puy-en-Velay, or Saint-Nectaire.
6. Summer in the French Basque Country
Nestled between the Bay of Biscay and the foothills of the Pyrenées, there is never a bad time to visit the French Basque country. However, June to September are the warmest and driest months in this region, also known for its own (rainy) climate that keeps it gorgeously green.
If you visit this distinctive corner of France in summer, you will find temperatures barely breaking the mid 20’s, so it is not too hot to hike. You can also enjoy the region’s beaches in Biarritz and its interesting culture in Bayonne.
The French Basque Country is great for sightseeing, but the only way to get into the heart of this region is to walk. Enjoy its variety of landscapes, from dramatic coastline to verdant rugged mountains, on short or longer hikes.
With consistent waves year-round, the French Basque country is also a surfer’s paradise, with a wide choice of surfing schools, surfing shops, and championships.
Finally, the French Basque Country is known for its distinctive architecture, delicious regional food, and for having the best chocolate in France!
7. Avignon and its Festival
Avignon is always a good idea, but it is one of the best places to visit in France in July thanks to its famous theatre festival. The Festival d’Avignon, or Avignon Festival, is an annual arts festival held every summer in July (this year from 7 to 30 July) in the courtyard of the Palais des Papes as well as in other locations of the city. This is the oldest existent festival in France and one of the world’s greatest.
Expect a vibrant city full of creativity, good theatre shows, and street performances. Avignon in July is also the ideal base to explore the lavender fields of Provence and the hilltop villages of Luberon.
8. Réunion Island
Ile de la Réunion is one of the French islands of the Indian Ocean, located between the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius. Nicknamed the “Intense Island,” Reunion is a land of contrasts and a concentration of adventure, exotism, and different flavors.
With 40% of the territory listed as UNESCO World Heritage, this wonderful island is a paradise for nature lovers, well-known for its volcanic, rainforested interior, coral reefs, and beaches.
It is never a bad time to visit Réunion, but hikers will definitely prefer to explore the island during the summer months in France (European summer), which corresponds to the island’s dry season. The dry season in Réunion corresponds to the months between May to November, with average temperatures ranging between 25C and 18C.
If you want to combine natural wonders with sightseeing, Réunion has an important number of colonial buildings from the 18th century and various museums worth visiting. Also, the colorful Marché de Saint-Paul, in Saint-Paul, is worth exploring.
9. Vallée d’Ossau (Ossau Valley)
Lesser known than the French Alps, the Ossau Valley is a true hidden gem, with endless outdoor activities for adrenaline junkies.
A trip to Vallée d’Ossau, Pyrnénées, is an excellent destination for a France summer holiday and one of the best places to visit in France in July: follow the transhumance (every year, usually between the 1st and the 10th and watch the Tour de France pass by (every second year or so).
If you visit this part of France in August, it’s festival time in the villages, with music and all kind of events for all the family.