August in Provence sees little change than the month before with temps running between 64-82˚F (18-28˚C) and the Mediterranean Sea warming a degree to 75˚F (24˚C)—the perfect cooling antidote. Note that the farther away from the coast, the more oppressive the heat becomes during the day. August, for example, can be a challenge in the Vaucluse with average highs of 86˚F (30˚C). Though at night, temperatures cool off considerably, particularly along the coast, near a lake, or in the mountains.
Pack light, bring that just-in-case umbrella and sweater and leave the cold weather gear at home. For more on the weather this month, see France in August: Travel Tips, Weather, and More.
Crowds & Cost
August remains ever-crowded as the weather is little changed from the month before, visitors flowing in for the sun, festivals, and popular attractions. For the most part, there's no escaping the crowds along the French Riviera, especially over weekends and the first half of the month as the French are likely to be on holiday. With that in mind, confirm all reservations if you visit this month since many business owners take a break during the hot season, and refrain from driving along the coast.
Book activities and your reservations and accommodation at least three months in advance as there's significant pressure on hotels and restaurants. Though you can find some respite in the Southern Alps and interior of Provence (locals having flocked to the beach), popular destinations such as Arles, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence will continue to bustle with visitors, and hotel rates remain more costly than during low-season months.
Where to Go
With the long hot summer days, the Mediterranean Sea and its coastline beckon visitors. If you aren’t crowd-shy, head to Provence’s southern shores to explore the number of seaside villages, resort towns, and beaches, from Marseille to Monaco along the Côte d’Azur.
And if you find yourself close to the resort town of Saint-Raphaël during the Fête de la St-Pierre des Pêcheurs you’re in for a treat. Look on as you see Saint-Raphaël’s fishermen, outfitted in traditional costume, joust Provençal-style from flat-bottomed boats moored in the harbor—all in honor of their patron saint.
Yet if you’re in want of evading the hordes of holidaymakers (both local and foreign), make your way west of Marseille to Côte Bleue. A region that extends to the Camargue or the “Wild West of France” as it is sometimes known. Here you’ll have striking views of turquoise waters, dramatic coastlines, and the Calanques (narrow inlets framed by steep, limestone cliffs) with plenty of access points to the coast—though you’ll have to trek a bit to reach the water. Try La Vesse, Ensuès, Eaux Salées, or the beaches of Sainte-Croix and Verdon.
You can also head inland to Saint-Rémy for their August 15 Féria de St-Rémy. In this area of Provence, August 15 is celebrated as a harvest festival with a smidge of religious aspects, but the most spectacular festivities center around the harvest and the bulls and later on, fireworks. See traditional Camargue-style bullfighting (no bulls are harmed) in the tiny well-attended Barnier Arena. And while here, you’ll want to visit the 12th-century Monastère de St- Paul-de-Mausole. This historic monastery-turned-psychiatric hospital is where Van Gogh was admitted and produced famous works, like that of Starry Night.
What to Do
If you do visit the French Riviera, take to the seas for a day of sailing to the Lérins Islands. Known for their rocky beaches and nature trails that lead through pine and eucalyptus forests, you’ll sail from Cannes to two of the four emerald islets, Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat, to discover beaches and swim right off the boat.
If there’s interest, consider visiting the 17th-century Fort Royal, most famous as having imprisoned the Man in the Iron Mask. Alternatively, stick to the mainland and get yourself to the sandy, rugged, and wild coastline around Hyères for a few nights of camping.
Music lovers and cultural enthusiasts will want to make their way to the city of Orange for the Chorégies d’Orange. Take in an al fresco opera production performed by international stars in the well-preserved ancient Roman theater. Its semi-circular, tiered stone seating and acoustic stone stage create one of the world’s best settings.
For a different kind of music scene, make your way to the famous wine village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape for the medieval-inspired festival of Véraison. Wander past jugglers, musicians, and stalls selling medieval-style items, watch tournaments of jousting, and cap off the day with a candle-lit banquet as performers in costume entertain you. There’s also a guided tour of the village beforehand and a wine tasting to kick off the merriment.
Events in August
Chorégies d'Orange. A summer al fresco opera event held each year in Orange’s ancient Roman theater in southern France.
L’Assumption (Assumption of the Virgin Mary). Expect some closures for this August 15 public holiday as the country honors the assumption of Mother Mary into heaven.
Les Rencontres d’Arles Photographie. Arles hosts an annual photography festival that makes excellent use of a number of its heritage sites as venues to showcase over 60 exhibits. There are debates, performances, and workshops, as well.
Traveling to Provence in August? Check out these great itineraries.
Upper Provence Cycling & Wine Tour - 7 Days. Provence encompasses more than the southeastern coast of France. Go north and you’ll find valleys abounding with olive groves and lavender fields, the limestone cliffs of the Alpilles Mountains, and chateaus producing some of the best wines in the country. See it all on an e-bike tour of Upper Provence—with this eco-friendly mode of transportation, you'll cover up to 50 miles per day on a rechargeable battery.
Relaxed Provence & French Riviera - 10 Days. Experience the best of Provence and the French Riviera in 10 days. Visit Cannes, Nice, the hill-top villages of Luberon, Aix-en-Provence, and more regional highlights. Along the way, you’ll enjoy gourmet culinary tours, local culture, and charming boutique hotels.