Cold, grey, and rainy, November is best suited for urban and cultural exploration: museums and galleries, food and wine. While this may seem like a less than ideal time to visit weather-wise, there are fewer crowds, cheaper accommodation, and world-class wines and truffles to be had. There's even a festival celebrating the release of new wine, mere weeks after the grape harvest. Read on to learn more.

Weather

France sees variable weather and November is no exception though on average the weather across the country is cold, grey, and wet with little sun. If you’re arriving in Paris, you can expect an average temperature of 39°F (4°C). Throughout the country temps range between 36-46°F (2-8°C) in the northeast, to 48-61°F (9-16°C) in South France, 39-50°F (4-10°C) in Central France, like Lyon, and 41-55°F (5-13°C) in the west along the Atlantic.

It’s best to pack an umbrella alongside warm clothing if you find yourself in the north and in the mountains, and layers for those chillier nights along the French Riviera.

Crowds & Costs

There are fewer crowds to compete with as even the shoulder season travelers have left the country. Hotel rates will be cheaper than during the busy season, flight and train deals can be found, and lines for many famous attractions, museums, and galleries will be much shorter. Though keep in mind, popular cities like Paris will have their share of year-round tourists. Meanwhile, ski season has officially begun, many locals heading to the ski resorts in the Alps.

And if you find yourself in the country on November 1 or 11 (see events below), know that there are nationwide closures, with businesses, including restaurants, museums, and galleries, closed.

Where to Go

As November sees a fair amount of rain, now is a great time to turn indoors and give galleries and museums the proper attention they deserve. Most travelers will start or end their holiday in Paris to check out the famous Louvre (home to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa), Musée d’Orsay, National Museum of Modern Art, the Musée de l’Armée Invalides (best known for Napoleon’s tomb), the Panthéon, and the nearby Château de Versailles. And while the hordes of tourists are away, now is the time to visit two of Paris’ most iconic (and photographed) monuments, the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Élysèes and the Eiffel Tower.

A classic next stop is to head to Dijon, the capital city of eastern France’s historical Burgandy region for their annual International and Gastronomic Fair. You’ll want to spend a few hours wandering the myriad of venues sampling the products (French food and wine!) on display before setting out to discover its sights. Try the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon—one of the oldest museums in France and part of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgandy, the 13th-century gothic Dijon Cathedral, and be sure to join a tour to check out the Côtes de Nuit vineyards for one of the country’s most predominant wine regions.

And a trip to France cannot go without a visit to Provence or the now-quiet Côte D'Azur for a languorous stroll along the water’s edge. If a brief storm should occur, there is always a nearby café or restaurant to choose between to warm up with a seasonal drink.

What to Do

Now is the time to put on your walking shoes and brave the mild chill for some of the country’s best fall foliage viewing. Autumn is slow to make an appearance in the southern half of the country, making it a great month to head into rural France. One great option is to walk the historic Cathar footpath taking in the dramatic mountain landscapes, forests, and gorges of southwestern France. For better coverage of an area and spectacular views, consider riding the Little Yellow Train through the French Pyrenees, starting in the UNESCO-protected Villefranche-de-Conflent.

Though if you’re experiencing less than ideal weather, it’s best to enjoy France’s cultured, indoor activities. As noted above, museums and galleries are excellent options, but so too is staying in and enjoying the delectable food. Lyon, for example, has a food scene that rivals that of Paris. With a glass of wine from the Northern Rhône Valley, dine on the wine-braised chicken of coq au vin or the city's most famous sausage, rosette de Lyon. And for something seasonally earthy, look no further than the black truffle. Hunt for them yourself or load up your suitcase with the delicacy sourced from weekly markets, like Carpentras in the Var.

Toward the end of November, Christmas markets begin to make an appearance in anticipation of the coming holiday seeing boulevards, streets, and marketplaces in towns and cities throughout the country lined with colorful wooden stalls. Shop the Christmas markets you happen upon taking advantage of the opportunity to pick up unique gifts and souvenirs for loved ones back home.

Events in November

La Toussaint (All Saints Day). November 1st is a public holiday that commemorates the dead, expect some closures.

Armistice de la Première Guerre Mondiale (Armistice Day). November 11 is a solemn national holiday marking the end of World War I and sees many schools and businesses closed. Families visit the graves of their departed loved ones and many rites and rituals are held at the great French battlefields.

Beaujolais Nouveau (Festival of New Wine). Taking place on the third Thursday of the month, this annual nationwide event celebrates the release of new wine at 12:01 am, mere weeks after the grape harvest, with music, fireworks, and parties.

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

Culture, Food & History of Provence - 6 Days. This six-day trip to France's famously beautiful Provence region allows you to experience its highlights. On top of touring the area's national parks and vineyards, you'll spend time in historic Marseille, travel around the ancient hilltop villages of the Luberon massif, and indulge in outdoor and gourmet excursions.

Culinary Rhône Valley Tour: Lyon to Marseille - 8 Days. This culinary tour winds its way from gastronomic Lyon (with a food scene rivaling that of Paris) through the colorful countryside of Provence. Taste famous wines, relax in olive country, and fall in love with the ancient cities and sweeping flower-filled fields that make this region famous.

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