Another great month to visit France, October sees pleasant weather with a few more sunny days being traded in for cloudy, rainy ones. If your main destination is Paris, count on temps to be around 50-64°F (10-18°C) with little rain. In Northeast France, you can expect temperatures between 45-59°F (7-15°C). In Atlantic France, the winds return as well as the cooler weather resulting in averages between 52-64°F (11-18°C) and in the south of the country temps range between 63-70°F (17-21°C).
Depending on where you find yourself, you’ll want to pack warm layers with a coat or waterproof jacket. And if you’re in South France, a swimsuit, as the Mediterranean is a cool 68°F (20°C) now.
Crowds & Costs
Airlines and hotels will have introduced shoulder-season rates that offer significant savings (outside of Paris), making October an ideal time to visit if you’re in want of avoiding crowds and looking for a bargain. This is especially true toward the end of the month, where there are even fewer tourists in the cities and along the coasts. With that said, know that this is the time when smaller monuments and attractions tend to close or reduce their hours.
And while the grape harvest season is underway in France’s wine regions and the country’s love for festivals continues, there will be crowds of locals and tourists alike. Therefore, you’ll want to book accommodation and travel as far in advance as possible.
Where to Go
Most travelers will either start their trip with a few days in Paris before setting out to explore the rest of the country or use Paris as a hub, taking day trips in and around the area. Either way, a popular option to see as much of the area as possible on your own schedule is to rent a car or, now that there are fewer tourists, ride the train. Consider a jaunt south of the capital to Fontainebleau in Île-de-France where you can take in the fall foliage as you wander the forest of mature trees and visit the 12th-century Château and its extensive gardens.
Another option is to head a couple of hours north of Paris to Amiens, a city divided by the Somme river, and former home to science fiction author, Jules Verne. If you find yourself here in early October, you’ll want to scope out the Amiens Réderie or flea market, one of the country’s largest flea markets and fairs (next to Lille’s Braderie the month before). Here you can stroll the 51 streets closed to professional dealers and casual traders to check out, and buy, vintage goods.
Beer lovers will want to get themselves to an Oktoberfest event (a German-style harvest celebration) like the one in Paris or Marseilles (not to be confused with Marseille in the south). Wash down German cuisine with plenty of beer as you listen to Munich-style oompah bands. Though if you’re more into wine, look no further than Montmartre’s Grape Harvest Festival for wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and regional cuisine as the 18th arrondissement celebrates the quarter’s own vineyard.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Food festivals related to the season can be found in most places throughout the country, making it the perfect time to indulge in French delicacies of pork, cheeses, chestnuts, chili peppers, and mushrooms. Try the Bayeaux Pork Gourmet Festival in Normandy, the Fieira de la Castanha (Chestnut Festival) in Clermont-Ferraud, Auvergne or make your way south to Basque Country to sample regional specialties enlivened by chili peppers at the Fête du Piment. And while in southern France, consider a trip to Mende for their annual Toqué du Cèpe where you can partake in mushroom-picking outings, cooking workshops, as well as sip wine while you peruse food stalls selling dishes featuring the decadent fungus.
Cultural enthusiasts will want to be in Paris the first weekend of October for Nuit Blanche, a night where the city’s museums and galleries, parks, monuments, and historic sites are open to the public all night long. And while the weather remains in your favor, October is a great month to deep-dive into history on a day tour of the castle-laden Loire Valley. Embark from Amboise to discover stunning examples of some of France’s most decadent châteaux: Blois, Cheverny, and Chambord.
Meanwhile, break up the day with a tasting of Cheverny wines. The Cheverny appellation produces elegant red wines from Pinot Noir and Gamay as well as fruity white wines from Chardonnay and Sauvignon grapes. And if you’re a true oenophile, seek out the Cour Cheverny Appellation, a stunning white wine made from a grape called Romorantin, imported by King François I into the Loire Valley.
Events in October
Nuit Blanche (White Night). On the first weekend every October, Paris’ museums, galleries, and cultural institutions open their doors all night long, free of charge.
Jazz Between the Two Towers. La Rochelle, on the Bay of Biscay, puts on a festival featuring around 100 nationally and internationally recognized acts.
Lumière Film Festival. Held in the city of Lyon (where film started with the Lumière brothers) for over a week every October, the festival screens over 174 international films.
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 October? Check out these great itineraries.
Paris, Bordeaux & the Loire Valley – 10 Days. This 10-day itinerary is ideal for those seeking the splendor of French wine, history, and gastronomy. Traveling by train, you'll start in Bordeaux for architecture—both old and new—and tastings at some of the best vineyards in the world. Next is the Loire Valley for a range of gorgeous castles surrounded by bucolic landscapes. Finish the adventure in Paris and experience top sites with the help of a local expert.
Motorbike Tour of Corsica – 6 Days. Perfect for avid motorcyclists and those seeking an off-the-beaten-track adventure, this 6-day tour winds through quiet back roads to charming Corsican villages, beautiful beaches, and some of the best hotels on the island. https://www.kimkim.com/c/6-day-motorbike-tour-corsica
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