We all love France, but there's a huge variety in the climate, cuisine, and countryside across the various regions. We have written our own guides to give a flavour of each region to help you choose the best location for your holiday.
Alsace is tucked away on the eastern border of France, adjacent to the River Rhine. It has hot summers and cold, dry winters. The region gets very little rain due to its position in relation to the Vosges mountains, which afford it protection from the west. The Alsatian city of Colmar, with just 550 millimetres of rain per year, is the second driest in the country.
Aquitaine is located in the south-western corner of France, adjoining the Bay of Biscay to the west and the Pyrenees mountains to the south, on the border with Spain. The weather is always agreeable, no matter when you visit. The summer is pleasantly warm, and while temperatures in the autumn and spring can be similar, they are generally cooler. Overall, there are around 2,200 hours of sunshine every year, and the precipitation, a major contributing factor to the region’s verdancy, is at its peak during the winter.
Auvergne is situated slightly to the south of the centre of France. This landlocked region of mountains, hills, valleys, forests and rivers could almost be described as the land that time forgot, as the pace of life is slower than that of other regions with their bustling cities and towns. It’s sparsely populated, but the beautiful natural scenery attracts ramblers, climbers, walkers and other nature lovers, all in search of a peaceful, relaxed time. The average summer temperature is 18 degrees, while the winter months get very cold. Summer is quite short, while winter is longer, and as one would expect from its geography, there can be many variations in the weather.
Brittany is located in the north-western corner of France. The region enjoys a warm, temperate climate, with plenty of rain to keep it looking lush and green. However, it does also experience many fine, cloudless, sunny days, and the weather is said to be similar to that found in Cornwall.
Burgundy is situated to the south-east of Paris, in eastern-central France. Summertime is generally hot, with one or two showers to cool things down a little, while the autumn is pleasant and sunny for the grape harvesting. Winter is cold, with many spells of fine, clear weather. Snowfalls are frequent.
Champagne-Ardenne can be found in north-east France, sharing its northernmost border with Belgium. The region experiences a mild climate, with warm, dry summers and cold, crisp winters. Most rain occurs between November and March, although thunderstorms are frequent during the summer. Ardennes and Haute-Marne are the wettest places, suffering nearly twice the average annual rainfall of the rest of the region. The wind is usually gentle, but becomes more vigorous during the winter.
Corsica is an island that lies in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s situated to the south-east of the French mainland and to the west of Italy, with the Italian island of Sardinia to the south, across the Strait of Bonifacio. The island, which was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions, is very mountainous, many of the peaks being in excess of 2,000 metres. Corsica has three distinct climatic zones. From the coastline up to 600 metres, it has hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, while from 600 to 1,800 metres, it’s cooler and wetter, and above that, it becomes a lot colder as the climate turns alpine.
Franche-Comté is located towards the middle of the east French border, abutting Switzerland. It’s mountainous in both the north and the south, while the area in between is home to densely-wooded pine forests and rolling cultivated fields. The summers are very hot, but the frequent storms keep the area looking lush and green, with lots of flowers. As for the winter months, they are long and cold, so expect snow, particularly on the higher ground. Spring and autumn are usually mild, with more than a smattering of sunshine.
Located north of the centre of the country, Île-de-France is both France's wealthiest and most highly populated region. It started life as the District de la Région de Paris in 1961, but assumed its current moniker in 1976. Despite that, many people still refer to it as the Région Parisienne. It has a mild, temperate climate, and the rainfall is spread evenly throughout the year, averaging around fifty millimetres per month. Summers are cool and winters are cold.
Languedoc-Roussillon is situated in the centre of the south of France, with its southernmost border adjoining Spain. The eastern side is mostly adjacent to the Mediterranean, while the inland north comes up against the Massif Central. The region is dry and warm for most of the year, and it's known for its hot summers and mild winters. However, there are climatic variations due to its geography, and Lozère, in the north, gets cold in the winter and can be subject to snow.
Limousin is situated to the south-west of the centre of France, mainly in the Massif Central. It shares borders with five other regions; Auvergne to the east, Aquitaine and Poitou-Charentes to the west, Centre to the north and Midi-Pyrénées to the south. With a population just shy of one million, it’s one of the least populated regions in France. Summertime is hot and often sees temperatures in the thirties, while days exceeding forty are not unknown. Overall, the climate is milder and damper than the neighbouring regions, and winters are long and cold, with snow on the higher ground.
The Loire Valley spans an area of approximately 800 square kilometres towards the centre of France, stretching for 280 kilometres along the middle section of the River Loire. Renowned for its vineyards and fruit orchards, it’s often referred to as ‘The Garden of France’. The region enjoys a favourable climate for most of the year. Although summers are hot, welcome breezes from the Atlantic make it more comfortable by lowering the temperature a few degrees. The spring can be cool and frosty, and the wine-harvesting period a little rainy.
Lorraine is an inland region in the north-east of France. It’s set between Champagne-Ardenne and Alsace, with Franche-Comté to the south, while the northern border edges Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany. Lorraine has hot summers, when it gets very humid, mild autumns and springs, and cold winters. Rainfall is frequent and happens throughout the year. Snow makes its presence felt from the end of October, with the biggest falls occurring in January and February. The winters can be very windy, but apart from that and the occasional springtime thunderstorm, the weather doesn’t go to extremes.
Lower Normandy is situated in north-west France. Its western side runs along the English Channel, which means the weather is wetter there than it is further inland. It’s a cool region, with summer temperatures never really rising out of the upper teens. Autumn and spring are cooler still, and winter is quite cold, without ever reaching extremely low temperatures. Rain falls over the whole year which, along with the humidity, is important for the agriculture of the region.
Midi-Pyrénées is situated in the south of France, sandwiched between Aquitaine and Languedoc-Roussillon. Overall, it’s known for its warm, pleasant climate, but because of its position, it comes under a number of influences which, in turn, give rise to a number of variable weather conditions. With the Massif Central to the north and the Pyrenees to the south, temperatures can get very high in the summer and very low in the winter, when there will most likely be heavy snowfall in the mountains. The region is one of the sunniest in France, but because it’s landlocked, it can become quite muggy during the summer, although the spring and autumn are nice and mild.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais is to be found in the north of France. Its western border adjoins the English Channel, while it shares its northern frontier with Belgium. The weather is cool for most of the year, particularly in winter, when it gets very cold. During the summer months, the average temperature is only in the upper teens, while in spring and autumn it’s in the lower teens. As for rainfall, it’s consistent throughout the year, being not dissimilar to Britain. However, on the plus side, it keeps the region looking green.
Pays de la Loire is situated in the mid-west of France. To the north are Brittany and Lower Normandy, while it shares an eastern border with Centre and a southern one with Poitou-Charentes. Its western side abuts the Bay of Biscay. Overall, the climate is mild, with dry, warm summers. However, autumn and winter are prone to wet and wind.
Picardy is located in the north of France. Its north-west border adjoins the English Channel, while the remainder of the region is surrounded by Nord-Pas-de-Calais to the north, Champagne-Ardenne to the east, Île-de-France to the south and Upper Normandy to the west. The climate is not dissimilar to the United Kingdom, but the summers, although short, are generally warmer. The winters are wet, coupled with strong winds, particularly along the coast.
Poitou-Charentes is located in the west of France, with a short coastal border adjoining the Bay of Biscay. It’s sandwiched between Pays de la Loire to the north and Aquitaine to the south. The region has one of the most agreeable climates in the country. Summers are hot, with no mugginess, and winters are mild. The spring and autumn months are warm and pleasant. With almost 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, Poitou-Charentes is the hottest and sunniest place along the Atlantic coast.
Provence is situated in the south-eastern corner of France, adjoining Italy on its eastern border, with the Mediterranean to the south. It mostly enjoys hot, dry summers and mild winters, although because of its geography, visitors may experience some micro-climatic variations.
Rhône-Alpes is to be found on the eastern side of France, slightly to the south of the middle, where it shares a border with Switzerland and Italy. The west side of the region sees the beginning of the Massif Central, while the east side is home to the westernmost part of the Alps. In between are the Rhône and Saône river valleys. Given its geography, the region’s weather is subject to many influences, resulting in large variations from one season to another. Summers are hot, but humid, while winters are long and cold, particularly on the mountains, where there is a lot of snow. Spring and autumn are mild. Overall, Rhône-Alpes is quite wet, although the south can be surprisingly dry.
Upper Normandy is situated on the north coast of France, abutting the English Channel. Lower Normandy lies to the west, with Picardy to the east, and Île de France and Centre bordering the south. The climate has a lot in common with the South of England, although it’s marginally warmer and sunnier in the summer. There’s rain all year round, although the winter months receive the most. The inland area is not only dryer than the coast, but also has lower temperatures in the winter and higher temperatures in the summer.