Well into Provence’s rainy season, October is the wettest month of the year where you can expect to see close to four inches of rain over a period of 20 days.
Temperatures across the region run between lows of 54°F (12°C) and highs of 68°F (20°C) and the Mediterranean stays warm enough for swimming right up until November (68°F/20°C). As you venture across Provence, you’ll discover areas with weather differing from that of the standard mild Mediterranean climate. Expect temperatures to be cooler inland from Nice in the mountains and in the northwest part of Vaucluse.
And if the cool mistral winds blow from the north, the weather will be cooler and the sea choppier. You'll want to pack light layers for daytime wear but warmer options and waterproof clothing to guard against any nighttime chills and those autumn showers.
For more on weather this month, see France in October: Travel Tips, Weather, and More.
Crowds & Cost
Airlines and hotels will have introduced shoulder-season rates that offer considerable savings, 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 foreign tourists in the cities and along the coast.
With that said, know the last two weeks of October are the Toussaint holiday for French schools, so you can expect things to be a bit more busy than usual. The advantage of this, however, is that traveling by bus to some more out of the way spots will prove easier as there are additional bus routes to accommodate students and many of the best restaurants and attractions will be open for business.
On the other hand, the downside to traveling in October is that boat excursions from Cannes and Nice are limited and you may find some shops and galleries closed.
Where to Go
A major benefit of traveling to South France in October is that some locals and most tourists have abandoned the beaches. If the sun is shining and the wind is behaving, consider exploring the Mediterranean coastline to visit any number of private and public beaches from Saint-Tropez to Menton.
Try Saint-Tropez’ packed-during-the-summer-months Plage de Pampelonne or take the 7-mile (11 km) walk around the Sentier du Littoral for pretty scenery and coastal floral to less obvious beaches. There are a host of options in and around Nice, like Blue Beach on the Promenade des Anglais, one of the few private beaches open year-round, or Plage des Mariniers in Villefranche-sur-Mer, just a 15-minute train ride from Nice.
Fans of the arts might like to know opera season kicks off this month with a handful of premium theaters hosting important works, Opéra de Marseille in Marseille is such a theater to consider (and one of France’s oldest and largest). There’s also the Abbaye Saint-Victor where the lovely venue offers a prestigious program of classical music concerts. Though for something a little more lively there’s the eclectic carnivalesque Fiesta des Suds taking place on the city’s seaside MuCEM Esplanade.
A classic next option would be to go beyond the coast and take the train to Aix-en-Provence to rent a car and do a little self-guided exploration of the surrounding rural landscapes, in particular, the large area around Mont Saints Victoire—one of about three dozen areas of outstanding scenic and/or cultural interest in France.
If you happen to be here mid-month, try and get a ticket to participate in the annual and wildly popular Rallye Sainte Victoire motor rally. It involves a treasure hunt around the region’s vineyards with stops along the way to meet wine-makers and other artisans such as beekeepers and cheese-makers and taste their produce.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
You'll want to partake in Provence’s popular harvest festivals during this month and indulge in regional delicacies, like cèpes (wild mushrooms) and chestnuts.
The best-known option for a fête de la châtaigne (chestnut festival) is in the medieval village of Collobrières in the Var. Sitting in the middle of the Maures forest, Collobrières puts on the local event during the last three Sundays of the month and the town comes alive in celebration. There’ll be eating, music and dancing, processions, and mingling with local artisans and producers promoting the nutty fruit in all its creations. If you’re further north in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence there’s also the small village of Revest-du-Bion to consider as they honor the nut from the surrounding Albion plateau.
While the weather remains in your favor, head into the Sainte Baume and Garlaban mountains near the hillside town of Aubagne (famed for its porcelain and pottery) to choose from several routes varying in length and difficulty to get in some hiking or cycling.
And beyond enjoying the autumn foliage, particularly toward the end of the month, you’ll want to visit Saint-Trinit to mingle with the locals and take part in foraging for fungi. Another excellent choice for hiking is to stay in Collobrières explore the nature trails throughout the mostly uninhabited Massif des Maures. And because it's chestnut season, reward your trekking efforts with delicious marrons glacés (chestnut ice cream).
Meanwhile, throughout Provence, small patches of purple crocuses pop up and while not as showy and famous as the lavender fields the region is known for, these delicate blooms are painstakingly cultivated for their lucrative red-gold properties: saffron. Call a local farm advance and book yourself in for an intimate tour to learn more about the ever-increasing farm production, its history, as well as to see for yourself what exactly is involved in the harvesting.
Events in October
Fiesta des Suds. Head to Marseille to experience four days of international performances in the capital’s Dock des Suds venue—from Malian musicians to reggae, bhangra, ‘Afro trap’ and more.
The Rencontres Gourmandes. In Vaison-la-Romaine you’ll find their annual food and wine festival taking place celebrating the regional specialties. Here you can meet the farmers and local artisans, attend workshops and cooking events, and indulge in wine tasting.
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. An exciting week-long sailing event that takes place at the end of September to early October and sees over 300 of the finest traditional and modern yachts (crewed by up to 4,500 team members) come together to compete.
Traveling to Provence in October? Check out these great itineraries.
Culture, Food, and History Tour of Provence - 8 Days. In just over a week it's possible to see all the highlights of Provence. This is a whirlwind tour that includes visits to its most beautiful cities, hilltop villages, national parks, and vineyards.
Pure Provence Self-Drive Tour – 11 Days. Provence is where the countryside meets the coast, where the Alps meet lavender fields, and where the French Riveria runs from Marseilles to the Italian border. Experience it all on this luxurious 11-day driving tour.