July is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year and for good reason, as the weather is beach-perfect, the festival season is in full swing, and Provence's famous lavender fields are blooming. This is also the month of France's biggest holiday, Bastille Day, with celebrations all over the region. Read on for more tips on where to go and what to expect in Provence this month.

Weather

July is the hottest and driest month of the year with an average temperature of 75˚F (24˚C) and 10-14 full hours of daily sunshine (more along the coast and closer to the Italian border). You can expect lows of 64˚F (18˚C) and highs of 84˚F (29˚C) with less than half an inch of rain over four days. Pack light cotton layers with your swimwear (the sea is now a solid 73˚F/23˚C), slather on the sunscreen and have a sweater on hand for those cooler evenings. 

Given the size of Provence, you can experience varying weather beyond the rest of the region’s Mediterranean climate. This includes a cooler Alpine climate further inland from Nice and a drier hotter-in-the-summer Continental climate in the northwest of Vaucluse, like in Avignon. It’s common to see the mercury rise to the mid-90s (mid-30s).

For more on the weather this month, see France in July: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

Crowds & Cost

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 is 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.

Book your reservations and accommodation well in advance—at least three months—as there's significant pressure on hotels and restaurants at this time. And 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. Marseille, however, is an excellent place to start, particularly if you find yourself here over July 14 for the Fête de la Bastille (see events below). You can expect parades, balls, free concerts, and some of the best fireworks over the Mediterranean. Toulon is another great option, though Aix-en-Provence, Arles, and Avignon will have their respective festivities worth experiencing too. And if you aren’t crowd-shy, squeeze yourself onto Cannes' Boulevard de la Croisette with the other 700,000 individuals who come for the awesome fireworks display over the Baie de Cannes for the explosive Festival d’Art Pyrotechnique.

Then there are the music and art festivals to consider. 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). If it’s your first time to Avignon, ride the Petit Train Avignon for a tourist-oriented road train that hits all the major historical hot spots along the bank of the Rhône River.

A classic next stop would be to spend time in the lesser-visited gem of Aix-en-Provence. Visit the 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 cafés and markets. For pretty sights of Provence’s iconic lavender fields, early July is best (before the harvest), where there are many noteworthy locations to check out. However, the fields of the Valensole Plateau face the setting sun and make for stunning late afternoon pics. Not to mention, there are golden fields of sunflowers and charming French villages waiting to be photographed.

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 making the coasts and the islands a perfect beach destination. Yet if you want to avoid the hordes of holidaymakers along the Mediterranean coast, visit Lac de Saint-Cassien on the edge of Montauroux. Not only is the beautiful lake great for swimming, but other activities like fishing, rowing, and kayaking can be accomplished too.

Though of course, if you’ve come for the famed and glamorous French Riviera, there are dozens of beaches to choose between and striped sun loungers to relax in. Go offshore and rent a jet ski or better yet, join a tour for a fun way to explore the coastline from a different (and less crowded) perspective. 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. Mont Ventoux is a highlight of the part of the race that takes place in Provence. Get an autograph at the day’s sign-ins or see the athletes receive their jerseys (awarded daily at the end of every stage). The truly fit who like a challenge might want to tackle “The Giant of Provence” for themselves.

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. Countrywide there are fireworks displays, balls, processions, parades and plenty of merrymaking.

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—the largest of its kind in Europe!—showcasing a French or world premiere of a new musical or theatrical production.

Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Following WWII, Aix hosts opera, orchestral works, chamber music, and buskers throughout the month, held mainly in the atmospheric Théâtre de l’Archevêché in the courtyard of the former Archbishop’s Palace.

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

Provence & Southern Alps Cycling Tour - 6 Days. Experience some of the most famous Tour de France climbs in Provence and the Southern Alps for yourself on this challenging six-day cycling tour, from Mont Ventoux to Alpe d’Huez. Cycle up the “Giant of Provence,” spin through the peaks of the Alps, and explore French country towns, all accompanied by scenic natural views to help you keep your pace up along the way.

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

Provence in June
Provence in August
France Tours & Itineraries