Being the largest country in Western Europe France has varied weather making it hard to generalise. In the northern half of the country rain is common, with the south generally receiving more sun. On balance, the French climate is one of the most temperate in Europe.

French climate is one of the most temperate in Europe
French climate is one of the most temperate in Europe

The north-west, within a few hours drive of the channel ports, has similar weather to southern England. Moving further south, as you go inland the hotter it will be in summer and the colder in winter. The north west and mid west has mild winters and cool summers, and frequent rain all year round. Due north can be very rainy, particularly Brittany.

The north east tends to be cold, with a lot of rain in autumn and winter. Summer tends to be sunny, some years very hot and humid.

In the west, near the coast, winters are mild (45 degrees F in January) and summers cool (61 degrees F in July). Rain is frequent during 180 days of the year.

The interior of the country has hotter summers, with an average July temperature of 64 degrees F. However, winters are also colder averaging 36 degrees F in Paris in January, although rain falls on fewer days of the year. Paris can feel extremely hot in summer, as there’s often little wind to cool things down.

The mountain climate around the Alps, Pyrenees and other ranges has cold, long, snowy winters and wet, though hot summers. Temperatures are mainly influenced by altitude and winters can last longer than in other areas. Rain is heavier and more frequent the higher you are, and during the winter there’s a lot of snow. For example, Briancon, in the Alps, has an average temperature of 28 degrees F in January, and 63 deg F in July, and has about twenty-three inches of rain a year.

Along the Mediterranean coast, and up to about thirty miles inland has mild and humid winters and hot, dry summers, sometimes with heavy, sudden rainfall. The average temperature is 45 degrees F in January and 73 degrees F in July. In Marseille the sun shines for more than three thousand hours each year. Provence and Languedoc are amongst the warmest regions, but the cold Mistral wind often blows down from the mountains through Provence even on the sunniest days. Usually, even in the wet season it only rains every third or fourth day.

The south-west tends to be sunny, although spring can be very wet. Summers there can get very hot and humid. The French believe the warmth of the south to begin as they cross the Loire, however the further west you are, the heavier rainfall is likely to be.