France in November may be rather grey and gloomy but that is no reason not to visit. With the Christmas lights going up, plenty of beaujolais nouveau being served, and the local museums free from the crowds, November can be a wonderful time to to France.
The leaves are on the ground and with clocks about to change hour, there are fewer tourists and the days are quite short. However, for most people, November is a great time to visit France to take advantage of the deals and last minute vacation offers, and also enjoy the beautiful cultural monuments in the off season.
So much so that there are even a couple of public holidays in France in November, letting the locals like myself go in to stay-cation mode as well. So let’s check out the top travel tips for visiting France in November, shall we? Allons-y!
As I mentioned, it is rather rainy and cloudy in november with risk of orages (storms) up and down the country. Average temperatures in November in major cities across France are:
- Paris – 7.9 °C (46.2 °F)
- Lyon – 7.4 °C (45.3 °F)
- Marseille – 11.4 °C (52.6 °F)
- Bordeaux – 10 °C (49.9 °F)
- Lille – 7.7 °C (45.9 °F)
- Strasbourg – 6.4 °C (43.6 °F)
- Deauville – 8.8 °C (47.9 °F)
Where to go
If you are in Paris, this is a wonderful time to check out the city’s major museums like the Louvre, along with sights like the Eiffel Tower and Palais de Versailles which will have significantly fewer lines and visitors than in the busy summer months.
Provence and the French Riviera are also great destinations as always, but I should note that it will be cold and windy in the south of France as well. It is the off-season for many small villages around Provence and reduced hours and quiet streets are the norm.
Towns like Saint-Tropez on the Mediterranean coast however, many small races and events to attract visitors in the off-season.
If you enjoy skiing, some of the top ski resorts like Val Thorens in the Alps will already have their chairlifts running, although this can change from year to year and week to week, depending on meteoric conditions.
November Holidays, Events, and Festivals
France’s fall holidays for schools usually include the last week of October and the 1st week of November, so tourist destinations like Deauville, Provence will be quite busy. The main festivities and holidays in November include:
1. La Toussaint – All Saints’ Day
- Public Holiday in France: Yes
- When: November 1st
Known as La Toussaint, it is an occasion to remember the dead. In France, chrysanthemum flowers are laid on gravestones of the dearly departed. This is a public holiday nationwide, so many shops and restaurants will be closed.
2. Jour anniversaire de l’Armistice – Armistice Day
- Public Holiday in France: Yes
- When: November 11th
The anniversary of the end of the First World War is marked with solemnity here in France. Having been invaded in both WWI and WWII, the day is a national holiday with remembrance services being held on the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysées.
3. Jour de Beaujolais Nouveau – Beaujolais Nouveau day
- Public Holiday in France: No
- When: 3rd Thursday of November
If you have been in Paris on the 3rd Thursday of November, you will have seen the signs announcing that the “Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” (meaning “the Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived”). One of the quirkier French celebrations, this one is all about the wine harvest.
The Beaujolais Nouveau is a young wine that doesn’t need to be aged, so local vineyards would race to press their grapes into wine and rush it up to Paris to be the 1st. A marketing strategy but one that worked, because Beaujolais Nouveau is now celebrated in many other cities like London and New York as well.
☞ READ MORE: Easy Guide to the French Wines
4. Fetes des Vins de Chablis
Local producers gather in the heart of the village to offer tastings and enter their wines in local competitions under a festive atmosphere.
5. Fête du Hareng in Normandy
If you like fish, several towns in Normandy like Dieppe, Fécamp, Tréport, and Saint-Valéry-en-Caux celebrate the Fête du Hareng (Herring festival) every November.
Considered the “King of Fish”, seafood is a big part of the culture and economy in Normandy. As the French history lesson goes, it was 1429 during the 100 year war. The city of Orleans was under attack and besieged by the English. Somehow, the French managed to cut off the food supply wagons of herring destined for the invading English, and after a famous battle, managed to liberate the city. All because of the herring.
You can taste it in all its forms during the festival, but the classic version is herring marinated and grilled, with a little lemon or white wine.
6. Festival de la Soie (Silk Festival) in Lyon
The city of Lyon used to be known for its silk industry, and this savoir faire is still celebrated with Festival de la Soie every November. Local exhibitors will present original and modern designs demonstrating their craftmanship and creativity.
The show attracts professionals and amateurs who wish to participate in demonstrations and learn about these age-old techniques.
7. Salon du Cheval de Paris
Salon du Cheval de Paris (Paris Horse Show) is an annual event dedicated to horses and riding with over 450 exhibitors and 2,000 horses. The event occurs each November, gathering around 150,000 visitors over ten days.
What to Pack
France in November can vary between humid and cold in the evenings, to bouts of sunshine during the day. It does get chilly and windy so dress warmly.
You can find more French style tips here.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may enjoy reading more about events in France in other months of the year. A bientôt!