French people are often surprised how few tourists come to France in October. It is one of the nicest months to visit, with all the amazing sights and monuments of the country wide-open with fewer crowds and relatively decent weather.
Yes, it can be a bit cloudy and rainy October in Paris, but not having to elbow your way to view the Mona Lisa is worth it. The autumn leaves are starting to turn in October and the pre-emptive Christmas planning is in full swing.
It isn’t the most popular month of the year to travel, but if you don’t have to work or be at school, unless you want a big halloween celebration, France can be an excellent place to visit. (French people don’t really do halloween.)
But if you are looking for cheaper flights and lower-priced hotels, this is one of the best times of the year to visit. So let’s check out the top travel tips for visiting France in October, shall we? Allons-y!
The weather in October in Paris and the northern part of France tends to fluctuate between sunny and clouds with rain, so it is best to be prepared for all eventualities.
Average temperatures in October in major cities across France are:
- Paris – 12.6 °C (54.7 °F)
- Lyon – 12.9 °C (55.3 °F)
- Marseille – 16.4 °C (61.4 °F)
- Bordeaux – 15.1 °C (59.3 °F)
- Lille – 12.1 °C (53.8 °F)
- Strasbourg – 11.6 °C (52.9 °F)
- Deauville – 12.9 °C (55.2 °F)
Where to go
With fewer crowds in October, Paris is a great place to head to if you wish to see all the major museums and attractions. You can expect hotel prices to be slightly less expensive than in the summer. But Paris is of course Paris, with the prices that go with it.
The south of France will also alternate between sunny and rainy. It is not really the time of the year to hang out by the pool or on the beach, but there is still plenty to enjoy in the milder climes. Saint-Tropez in particular has several small festivals in October to attract visitors.
In addition, a gâteau basque cake festival is celebrated every year in October in the town of Cambo-les-bains in Nouvelle Aquitaine.
October Holidays, Events, and Festivals
There are not a lot of public holidays or big events taking place in France in October, but there are a few local festivities that take place all over the country. The main festivities and holidays in October include:
1. Fête des Grands-Pères
- Public holiday : No
- When: 1st Sunday in October
The grandparents may not be celebrated together, but Grandfather’s day only dates back to 2008. Being a newer holiday, there is no particular tradition of gifts for Papy, so you can wish him as you please.
2. Fall School holidays
School may have just started in September, but 6 weeks after the 1st day of school, it is school holidays again! Kids are off school for 2 weeks from the end of October to the start of November, depending on their region. Time for a fall holiday somewhere, if the parents can afford to take some time off.
In case you were wondering, French adults usually have on average 6-8 weeks holiday, but it is not enough to make off for all their kids’ school holidays. Time to send the kids to the centre de loisirs (leisure center) or call in the grandparents!
3. Nuit Blanche in Paris
Inspired by the 1989, Helsinki’s Night of the Arts, Nuit Blanche in Paris is is a special event when art takes over the city. Every art gallery and museum is open until midnight or later and artists are invited to install their creations on the street for passersby and art lovers everywhere to admire.
Nuit blanche translates to “white night”, and is the French expression for the all-nighter. The French nuit blanche has now been exported to over 120 countries across the world.
4. Fête de la Bière – Oktoberfest in Alsace
The region of Alsace has been fought over by France and Germany for centuries. It only finally became part of France after WWII. So it stands to reason that the region would keep some of its German traditions, among them being Oktoberfest.
It is held in Strasbourg and Colmar and various small villages in the area with large beer gardens with plenty of singing, sausages, and sauerkraut. You can also visit the Alsace wine route at the same time, which should just be wrapping up their yearly wine harvest.
5. Lumière Film festival in Lyon
Celebrating the Lumière brothers who invented the cinema as we know it, is the Lumière film festival that is held every October in Lyon.
While smaller than the Cannes and Deauville film festivals, it is still features hundreds of French and foreign films.
As I mentioned, Halloween on October 31st is not really celebrated in France. The 1st day of November, or All Saints’ day, is a public holiday however.
You will not see kids going door-to-door trick-or-treating. And even if they did, there would likely be no candy. French neighbors don’t stock up on candy on Oct 31st, so I know other North American moms who go and drop off little bags of candy at their neighbors to subsequently hand out.
There are a few small parties that are held among expat groups, but certainly not the big celebration that you would see in North America. You can read more about Halloween in France here.
7. Fêtes des Sorcières
These days, several cities in France celebrate the Fête des Sorcières, festival of witches towards the end of October. If you are interested in attending, the biggest ones are in:
- Lille (Haut de France)
- Chalindrey (Grand Est)
- Morbecque (Haut de France)
- Pennes Mirabeau (Provence)
What to Pack
France in October can vary between cold and windy in the evenings, to bouts of sunshine during the day. It does get chilly and humid so dress warmly.
You can find more French style tips here.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may enjoy reading more about travelling to France in other months. A bientôt!