September is one of the very best months to visit France. Not only will you get to enjoy plenty of sunshine and warm weather, but the tourist season is beginning to wind down—which means cheaper airfare, lower rates at hotels and fewer crowds.
The best part about going to France in September is that you get all the benefits of a summer trip to France (warm weather, long days, extended hours at attractions) without having to deal with the crowds of tourists. Although it’s still beach weather down in Languedoc and the French Riviera, in Normandy and Brittany, there’s a subtle crispness in the air and the leaves are just beginning to have a tinge of color.
For fans of French wine – and seriously, who isn’t – September also marks the beginning of grape harvest season in France, meaning there are plenty of wine-related events and festivals around the country. And if this is your first trip to France, here are some handy tools to help you get started planning your vacation!
- How to plan a trip to France
- France first-time visitor’s guide
- France weather
- Map of France
- Getting around France
What to do in France in September
Go wine tasting
Fall brings grape harvests to France, and September is a great time to check out the many vineyards around the country and go wine tasting. I am a big fan of autumn in the Loire—here you’ll not only find the beginnings of great fall foliage in September, but you’ll also be able to check out the castles of the Loire in between visiting vineyards. Burgundy in September is also lovely and a great place to visit vineyards. Plus, the first half of September can also be warm enough to still canoe the Dordogne.
- Dom Pérignon: Drinking The Stars
- Wine Regions of France
- French Wine Guide
- Understanding the four categories of French wine
- Champagne: The Drink of Kings
- French Apéritifs
- Self-guided Provence wine tour itinerary
- Beaujolais Nouveau: Get Your Grape On
- Making vin chaud
Go to the market
As the beginning of harvest season, September brings bountiful produce to the outdoor as well as marking the very beginning of harvesting season at the vineyards, which makes September a great time to go wine tasting.
- Markets in France: Tips to maximize your shopping experience
- Where to find the best markets in France
Hit the beach
Although you may not think of September as a prime beach going month, it is actually a great time to head to the beach (especially earlier in the month). Especially along the French Riviera and Languedoc warm sunny days are still prevalent, which makes it an ideal time to soak up some sun (especially in the beginning half of the month). Fewer beach goers (both of the French variety and other international tourists who flock to the Mediterranean in the summer) means you might actually find a spot to lay your towel down that’s not three inches from someone else.
- Best Beaches in France
- Nude Beaches in France
- Best Beaches Along the French Mediterranean
- Visiting Saint-Jean-de-Luz: A Beachside Basque Gem
Take a Barge Cruise
Slightly cooler temperatures, but still plenty of warm weather makes for perfect conditions to enjoy a barge cruise through the canals of France. With such beautiful weather and scenery this time of year, nothing beats hanging out on the deck of your barge, riding bikes through France’s villages and soaking up the September sunshine.
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Visit the Museums
Many museums in France have extended hours during the summer to accommodate the extra tourists and locals, and some museums also have extended hours into September. There is a rumor floating around that museums are now free for those under 25 in France (which is good news to some and doesn’t mean a thing to many of you).
- Not sure what museums you should hit up? Check out Paris’ Top 50 Museums
Holidays, Festivals and Events in France in September
Basque Country Music Festival—This is one of France’s premier music festivals and celebrates basque culture in France. This festival is also located in one of my favorite cities in France, Saint-Jean-de-Luz (which also happens to make the list of the Best Beaches in France).
Feria du Riz (Rice Feria)—No, this is not a festival celebrating rice, but rather is a showcase of bullfighting traditions in Southern France. This festival in Arles (Provence has cooled to bearable temperatures by September—another bonus) features bullfighting and running of the bulls. The party continues well into the wee hours of the morning, making you feel like a character that’s stepped right of Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
Paris Techno Parade—If you’ve ever been clubbing in Paris, you know that the French love to get down to house and techno music, which is makes it no surprise that the country’s second most popular music festival is a techno parade that laces through the streets of Paris in the middle of the month. Trucks with huge speakers playing electronic music (followed by hoards of techno fans) wind through the streets of Paris, making a mobile party of sorts.
Festival Jazz et Grand Vins de Bourgogne—As previously stated, September is a great time to head to Burgundy and go wine tasting. During this jazz festival in Beaune, visitors can enjoy great local cheeses and wine while taking in live jazz music. There are also classes offered on both wine and jazz.
Heralding the Harvest—September marks the beginning of grape harvest season in France and in the medieval and picturesque city of Saint Emillion (in 1999, the vineyards of Saint-Emilion became the first viticultural landscape registered under the worldwide patrimonial protection of the UNESCO). For centuries, the wines of Saint-Emilion have been well recognized and respected and were once heralded as the “Nectar des Dieux” (Gods’ Nectar) by Louis XVI. While today, the wines receive world wide acclaim from both critics and enthusiasts. A celebration honoring the harvest of these very special grapes takes place in the middle of the moth, making it a great time to head to Burgundy.
Feria des Vendanges—This festival in Nîmes (Languedoc) is yet another festival celebrating the grape harvest. In this region of France, you will nto only find some of the country’s best wines, but grape harvest festivals in southern France often are paired with bullfighting events that are sure to keep you entertained after you’ve downed a bottle or two.
Weather in France in September
Another benefit to going to France in September? While the weather is still delightfully warm and pleasant, you also won’t descend into the metro wearing a cute outfit only to emerge 45 minutes later drenched in sweat and attempting to control your previously perfect coif that has been destroyed by that evil combination of heat and humidity. While July and August in France (especially Paris) can bring hot temperatures and humidity, by September it has cooled to a pleasant temperature that allows you to wear that cute summer dress (paired with a cardigan when it gets chilly later in the day) without sweating through it.
Paris– Average high temperature = 21 degrees celsius/70 degrees farenheit. Average low is 13 celcius, 55 farenheit. Average rainfall = 53 millimeters, or 2.1 inches.
Nice— Average high temperature = 24 degrees celsius/75 degrees farenheit. Average low at 17 degrees celcius/62 degrees farenheit. Average precipitation is 66 millimeters, or 2.6 inches.
Bordeaux–Average high temperature is 23 degrees celsius, 73 degrees farenheit. Average low is 12 celcius/53 farenheit. Average precipitation is 84 millimeters, or 3.3 inches.
Strasbourg– Average high temperature is 21 degrees celsius, or 69 degrees farenheit. Average low is 11 celcius/51 farenheit. Average precipitation is 61 millimeters, or 2.4
What to pack for your trip to France in September
Weather in France during September will vary depending on where you are, but it is mostly moderate time of year with hot days and cool evenings, which means you’ll want to make sure you pack both hot-weather outfits along with a light jacket and some sweaters. The key to dressing for fall and spring in France is layers—a summer dress for the warm day with a sweater for when it gets cooler for example.
For more tips on what to wear in France check out these posts:
Getting to France in September
While airfare to France is not as low in September as it is during the off-peak winter months, you will have an easier time finding a good deal on flights to France in September than in July or August. Booking far in advance can also help you get a cheap flight to France in September. For those coming from London, taking the Eurostar between Paris and London is easiest and fastest way to get between France and UK, though there are other transportation options for getting from London to Paris.
Where to Stay
While you may not have to book your hotel in France as far in advance in September as you would during the summer months, you will still want to make sure your book your hotel, bed and breakfast or hostel in France in advance, as there are still a fairly large number of tourists in France during this month.
- Accommodations in France
- France hotel info
- Hostels in France
- Here are some hotels on the Vieux Port in Marseille.
- And a great guide to budget hotels in Bordeaux.
- Oh! And hotels in Nice near the Promenade des Anglais, and hotels near La Criosette in Cannes.
- And just for kicks, check out hotels with a view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.