Spring has arrived with plenty of bright, sunny days, and rising temperatures where the region sees an average temperature range of 46-64°F (8-18°C).
Having said that, close to half the month experiences rain showers along the coast, particularly in Marseille, though thanks to the general Mediterranean climate Provence experiences, the rains are short, giving way to clear skies. So slip an umbrella into your luggage alongside clothing perfect for layering. Meanwhile, the Mediterranean Sea has yet to warm sufficiently, remaining too cold for swimming in comfort (58°F/14°C).
Keep in mind, Provence is quite large so as you travel about the region, you’ll discover variations in weather. You can expect cooler temps inland of Nice in the mountains as well as cooler and drier weather in the northwest part of Vaucluse. And don’t forget about the mistral—a strong wind prevalent in the spring and winter months that not only brings with it cooler temps and rougher seas, but that also clears out cloud-covered skies.
For more on the weather this month, see France in April: Travel Tips, Weather, and More.
Crowds & Cost
April transitions from the low season to Provence’s shoulder season as businesses and major attractions begin to re-open for tourism. And while the number of foreign tourists increases as the weather continues to improve, there are still bargains to be had on airfare and hotels. Not to mention, the beaches remain relatively quiet; free of casual swimmers and sun-seekers.
If Easter happens to fall during April, you can expect prices to spike during this period as you'll be competing with locals vacationing (students have a month-long spring break starting around Easter). So be sure to book all reservations far in advance as well as plan for business closures and public transportation running on a holiday schedule.
Where to Go
The best way to experience Provence is to rent a car. Drive across the region and discover the delights of the changing scenery as you move from one charming town to the next. Spend time along the Côte d’Azur first, perhaps in Saint-Raphaël or La Ciotat where you can check out Les Nauticales before setting your sights on Brignolles in the Var for one of the oldest and largest wine festivals in Provence. Venture west, through the Luberon and the departments of the Bouches-du-Rhône and Vaucluse. As you drive through the garrigue (scrubland typical of Provence), breathe in the scents of Mediterranean pine, rosemary, and wild thyme, and admire the colorful early spring views of the red poppies, yellow broom, and purple-pink Centranthus found throughout.
And if you’re traveling during Easter, you’ll be rewarded with patisseries and chocolatiers selling artisanal Easter candy, cakes, and chocolates, as well as each area of the region celebrating Easter in its own manner. Find classical music at the elegant Festival de Pâques in Aix-en-Provence and a kid-friendly Easter egg hunt on the grounds of Château de la Barben. For a slightly more traditional experience, the area around Nice is where you’ll find more religious focused Spanish-style processions of penitents. While, the ancient Roman city of Arles sees its popular Easter Feria bullfighting event open the Easter weekend, marking the start of the French bullfighting season.
What to Do
Though ski season is coming to a close, you’ll be able to get in a number of runs at any of the laid-back resorts found in Provence. Try Serre Chevalier near Briançon in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department or Isola 2000 on the Italy-France border in Alpes-Maritime.
Yet if winter sports in April aren’t appealing, Provence beckons hikers, cyclists, and beachgoers to take advantage of the sunny weather, few crowds, and blooming wildflowers. Hiking and cycling options abound from the seven valleys of Mercantour National Park to the river canyon of Verdon Gorges, to the steep mountain terrain of Mont Ventoux. And for culture enthusiasts, join a walking tour of Arles' historic city center to uncover its ancient Roman legacy left behind as seen in a number of its buildings, including the well-preserved amphitheater.
And if you find yourself along the coast, as you’ll want to be, beaches are quiet and free of causal swimmers and sun-seekers barring the water enthusiasts that come out to play in the choppy waves formed by the coastal breeze. Visit any number of the stunning beaches, like Plage de la Garoupe in the delightful town of Antibes or Coco Beach, just past the port in Nice that provides a sheltered backdrop to protect against any wind. If you want to get into the water, keep warm in a wetsuit as you try your hand at windsurfing, kitesurfing, and paragliding.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to do a little shopping, get yourself to nearby L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for their International Art and Antiques Fair. Peruse the hundreds of stalls set up in the stunning Provençal streets for antiques and knickknacks.
Events in April
Le Carnaval. Held annually 40 days before Easter on the liturgical calendar, France’s Carnival celebrations occur sometime between January and April but often fall in February. The Carnaval de Nice attracts over one million visitors to the Côte d'Azur and lasts for two weeks, while other towns prefer to wait for warmer weather and host their carnivals around Easter.
Pâques (Easter and Holy Week). Because Easter follows the liturgical calendar, it may occur in April (sometimes if falls in March). If it does, enjoy the celebrations and processions that occur throughout the country and expect closures on Vendredi Saint (Good Friday), Lundi de Pâcques (Easter Monday) and Sunday.
Traveling to Provence in April? Check out these great itineraries.
Self-Drive Tour in Provence & French Riviera - 11 Days. Visit vibrant Nice and Monaco, stroll through hill-top villages of Luberon, and discover the peaceful countryside of Aix-en-Provence. Follow the footsteps of some of the world's greatest artists (Van Gogh, Picasso & others) and explore the landscapes that inspired them.
Rhône Valley Family Tour: Lyon to Marseille - 12 Days. This self-drive 12-day itinerary highlights the best of the Rhône Valley, from north to south. Perfect for the whole family, you'll start in food-forward Lyon, then work your way through the colorful countryside of Provence and down to Marseille on the Mediterranean coast.