As late summer begins to edge into early autumn, the temperatures drop and the rainfall increases; a common feature of the Mediterranean climate experienced across most parts of Provence.
You can expect an average range of 59-75°F (15-24°C), making it one of the more pleasant times of year to visit. Meanwhile, the sea remains an inviting 71°F (22°C), further adding to September’s appeal. You’ll be comfortable in lightweight summer clothing and a sweater for after dark. And it's always a good idea to pack an umbrella in case you get caught in any showers.
As Provence is quite a vast region, you can experience different weather beyond the standard Mediterranean climate. This includes a cooler Alpine climate further inland from Nice and a drier, warmer Continental climate in the northwest of Vaucluse, like in Avignon.
For more on weather this month, see France in September: Travel Tips, Weather, and More.
Crowds & Cost
September is the perfect time to visit if you want to catch the last of the summer sun and explore the sights and beaches without the throngs of tourists that characterize peak season. Plus, all the best restaurants and attractions are still open for business. And while the French Riviera won’t be empty by any means, most places won’t be overly cramped either. Having said that, if you’re looking for a bargain you’ll want to search for hotel and flight deals closer to the end of the month and book yourself into a wine tour in advance.
And if you plan on renting a car—the best way to tour Provence—know that with fewer travelers on the road, arranging short excursions will be more comfortable.
Where to Go
September is one of the best months to explore Provence, with fewer crowds and pleasant weather you’ll have an all-access pass to the region. An excellent place to start is in Provence’s hinterland in the Luberon for the quintessential Provençal experience of spectacular countryside chock-full of vineyards and orchards, villages perchés (hilltop villages), and outstanding natural produce. Stroll through the springs at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. Let the hilltop village of Gordes seduce you with its fortified castle and church, its cobbled streets, and enchanting views over the valley and hills. Then visit Roussillon, home of the biggest ochre deposits in the world and one of the most beautiful villages in France.
And now that the grape harvest season has begun, you might like to try a glass or two or three of the underrated Côte du Luberon appellation at any of the Luberon wineries open to the public. Wherever you find yourself in Provence, something is going on and it likely has to do with wine. Not too far from the Luberon sits Châteauneuf-du-Pape, an expansive vine-covered region that offers its own controlled (and world-renowned) wine-of-the-same-name. Toward the end of the month, they host a picnic harvest with local fare and of course the famous grape. Alternatively, in Sainte-Maxime along the Côte d’Azur, you can celebrate the nectar of the gods together with locals as you dance, drink, and be merry.
And while the weather is beautiful, make your way across the Golfe de Saint-Tropez to check out your choice of beach running from Saint-Tropez to Menton along the Italian border. Try any one of the 27 private beaches (though you’ll need a sizeable balance on your credit card) or find your way to a public beach like Plage des Salins or Plage Graviers. Another option is to remain in Sainte-Maxime and visit its more relaxed beaches for 3 miles (5 km) of sandy stretches. Bonus, Sainte-Maxime is easy to get to from Nice, Cannes, and Marseille.
What to Do
There are endless options to take advantage of in September, from outdoor activities and cultural events to the wine-and-food festivals, like the Fête de la Gastronomie with events honoring everything from garlic, quince, and squash to almonds, olive oil, and pizza. Consider a visit to Bouches-du-Rhône’s historic Marseille for their ManiaPizza festival that commemorates the city’s longstanding history with the dish. Though for something a little more sophisticated there’s Les Vendanges Étoilées (Starry Harvest) in Cassis where you’ll find a host of restaurants pairing special menus with Cassis wine. Bon appetit!
For a truly captivating experience, get yourself to Avignon for their Les Luminessences show. The famous Palais des Papes (Palace of the Pope) takes center stage as 15 large-format projectors screen breathtaking images onto the four walls of the courtyard immersing you in sound and light. Drink in the 800 years of Avignon’s history told in this exciting manner (with just as many shows said in English as in French).
The more active traveler might like to join a kayaking excursion of Calanques National Park, a natural treasure that lies between Marseille and the seaside town of La Ciotat. Together with your guide paddle across green and blue waters amid towering limestone cliffs to charming fishing villages and hidden-away-inlets and coves. Another option is to head inland into the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department to hike the impressive Verdon Gorges. Try a route above the canyon for epic views of the valley below. Another option is to take off down the Verdon River on a kayak or canoe trip or to head out on Lake Sainte-Croix, a tranquil man-made lake at the end of the canyon that's perfect for boating.
Events in September
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.
Fête de la Gastronomie (French Gastronomy Festival). This annual nationwide food festival takes place the last weekend of the month celebrating French cuisine with a slew of events. Some events include chef demonstrations, workshops, wine cellar and brewery tours, discounted gourmet cuisine, and tastings.
Fête Votive de Saint-Rémy. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence puts on their six-day celebration of their patron saint where bullfighting takes place, and you’ll see parades through the streets.
Traveling to Provence in September? Check out these great itineraries.
Provence Food, Wine & Culture Tour - 7 Days. Starting in Marseille, you'll swim in the Mediterranean, tour cafés and vineyards in Aix en Provence, and explore a range of picturesque hilltop villages in the Luberon. At the end of each day, hang your hat on some of the most charming hotels in France.
Provence Highlights and Culture Self-Drive Tour - 11 Days. Stop in historic cities like Marseille and Aix-en-Provence as well as hilltop villages like Uzès and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. As an added treat you'll hike canyons, kayak along the coast, and participate in a cooking class and wine tour.