July is the warmest month of the year; the sea is its most inviting, the sky is its most clear, and all across the country there is an exciting event taking place, like the grueling Tour de France. It's the perfect month for getting outdoors to see and do it all. This is also the month of France's biggest holiday, Bastille Day, with celebrations all over the country. This monthly guide will tell you what to do and where to go (and how to beat the inevitable crowds).

Weather

Overall, July is one of the warmest times of the year in France (next to August) averaging daily highs of 77˚F (25˚C) and lows of 61˚F (16˚C) in Paris. Note that in recent years, particularly in late-July, heatwaves have occasionally struck spiking the mercury to the mid-90s (mid-30s). If you plan on traveling throughout the country, averages in the northeast are 55-81˚F (13-27˚C), 61-75˚F (16-24˚C) in Atlantic France, and 68-81˚F (20-27˚C) along the Mediterranean.

Pack light layers with your swimwear (the sea is now a solid 73˚F/23˚C) and slather on the sunscreen and have a sweater on hand for those cooler evenings. Though if you’re in Paris, you’ll want to have your umbrella nearby as the city sees brief thunderstorms, sometimes unexpectedly interrupting your day.

Crowds & Costs

July is certainly the busiest time of the year and for good reason, as the weather is beach-perfect and the festival season is in full swing. The extensive coastline and Corisca are teeming with summer crowds, especially during the middle of the month from July 14 (Bastille Day) to mid-August when the French flock en masse to the seaside for their holidays. Having said that, tourist season is at its peak in Paris with the majority of locals having fled for the French Riviera.

Book your reservations and accommodation well in advance as there's significant pressure on hotels and restaurants at this time. Be aware that July welcomes the internationally renowned Tour de France and the crowds it attracts will increase pressure on local facilities.

Where to Go

With so much going on this month it’s hard to know where to begin. Central Paris, however, is an excellent place to start, particularly if you find yourself here over July 14 for the Fête de la Bastille. Bastille Day is the biggest and most important festival in France (see events below). You can expect parades, balls, free concerts, and some of the best fireworks over the Eiffel Tower. The night before, in the Place de la Bastille (where the prison once stood), is the Bal du 14 juillet—an enormous masked ball definitely worth attending. And for the best views of the feu d’artifice (fireworks), make your way to the Sacré Cœur or Montparnasse Tower for a stellar bird’s eye view, otherwise go early to the Jardins du Trocadéro, the Parc de Belleville, or the Champ de Mars.

Provence is the next place to be for charming views of lavender fields, hillside villages, stunning coastline, and the plethora of festivals that take place. Head to the medieval city of Avignon to catch one of the region’s most impressive festivals, the Festival d’Avignon, for “IN” featuring new musical and theatrical productions. There’s also the coinciding alternative festival of independent theater companies or “OFF” running alongside. The best place to be is in the historic courtyard of the Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace).

A classic next stop would be to spend time in the lesser-visited gem of Aix-en-Provence. Visit surrounding lavender-blanketed fields, vineyards, the limestone cliffs of Sainte Victoire Mountain (that inspired artists like Cezanne), and of course stroll along the main thoroughfare, Cours Mirabeau, for markets and cafés.

What to Do

Key sites will begin to feel crowded by mid-July especially now that the French are on holiday (until mid-August). The weather is now perfect for sunbathing, and the sea is finally warm enough for swimming and all other water-related activities (kayaking, kite/wind-surfing, sailing, snorkeling/scuba diving) making the coasts and Corsica a perfect beach destination. Yet if you’re short on time or can’t make it to the south of France, look no further than Paris. Between Port de la Gare station and Bassin de la Villette, the Seine is transformed into a beach as the mayor brings the beach to the city for Paris Plages. Sip a cocktail Seine-side.

Though of course, if you’re in want of a more traditional beach experience get yourself to the famed and glamorous French Riviera. There are dozens of beaches to choose between and striped sun loungers to relax in. And for something beyond the beach and party scene, consider joining a culture and food tour around Saint Tropez. You’ll visit the medieval hilltop village of Grimaud, tour its Venice-like Port, and visit the nearby Sainte-Maxime for an afternoon Côte-de-Provence wine tasting.

Meanwhile, as the grueling Tour de France takes place this month, cycling enthusiasts and fans of the event will want to either spectate from any point along the route or pick up a bike and try some of the terrain for themselves. Get an autograph at the day’s sign-ins, see the athletes receive their jerseys (awarded daily at the end of every stage) or celebrate with hordes of fans as the competitors cross the finish line on the Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris. One easy-intermediate option is to explore Brittany by bike and ride miles of scenic coastal roads, follow rivers and canals, and pass through charming towns and villages. The truly fit, however, might want to make their way up Mont Ventoux to pedal the steep terrain, often featured in the Tour de France.

Events in July

Tour de France. The world’s most famous cycling competition lasts for three weeks in July (precise dates and routes change each year). Even if you don't have much interest in witnessing a cycling race, you should still check the schedule. The route passes through many cities and towns throughout the country, and most lodging options in these locales will be fully booked during this time. 

La Fête de la Bastille (Bastille Day). A national holiday celebrated annually across the country on July 14 marks the anniversary of the 1789 storming of the Bastille Prison—one of the first major events leading up to the French Revolution.

Festival d’Avignon. The courtyard of Avignon’s Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) as well as other locations throughout the city, holds the annual arts festival showcasing a French or world premiere of a new musical or theatrical production.

Festival des Jardins (International Garden Festival). From April to October the gardens of Château Chaumont-sur-Loire host this annual festival showcasing up to 30 themed gardens put on by landscape architects, designers, and artists.

Traveling to France in July? Check out these great itineraries.

Tour du Mont-Blanc – 11 Days. Circle the highest summit in Western Europe in ten days of trekking with this summer itinerary. Start in the Chamonix Valley and hike through France, Italy, and Switzerland with iconic Alpine vistas throughout. Hike over high mountain passes and quiet meadows, see the Alps reflected in mirror-like Swiss lakes, visit the classic resort towns of Courmayeur and Chamonix, and spend each night sleeping comfortably in charming mountain huts and lodges. 

Highlights of Provence – 11 Days. Vibrant Marseille, charming Aix-en-Provence, and historic Avignon: pay a visit to every quintessential locale in Provence on this comprehensive tour. With a perfect balance of outdoor activities and cultural experiences, this itinerary will check every box on your list of things to see and do in this lovely region of Southern France.

More Helpful Information

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