Calling all sun seekers and sea lovers, the warmest places in France promise to fill any vacation with oodles of UV and Vitamin D. They’re the spots where you can chase the best weather in the land of baguettes and bouillabaisse, where you can laze down on shimmering sands, and sail seas under the endless gaze of the sun.
This guide outlines seven of the top options on that count. It’s got surprising variety, hopping from the glitzy towns of the Cote d’Azur all the way to the palm-threaded islands of the South Pacific Ocean and even up to the ski runs of the French Alps!
Of course, there are oodles more spots in the country that could make lists of the warmest places in France – even Paris tends to get balmy in the midsummer months! But these are the ones with the peak temperatures and the most reliable good-weather climates around. Let’s start…
Corsica obviously deserves a place among our selection of the warmest places in France. The island represents the southernmost part of the country’s territory in Europe, extending far down into the Ligurian Sea to poke even further south than the likes of Rome and Montenegro.
That has an impact on the thermometers. Come the summertime, they can regularly hit 30 C (86 F), while the capital of the island in Ajaccio recently set a new record with a sweat-inducing 40.1 C (105 F) back in 2019. Even the winters aren’t all that cold – average temperatures in December and January hover around the 9-10 C (48-50 F) mark, even while snow falls on the peaks of Mt Cinto in central Corsica.
And there’s no end to the draws when the sun is shining and the temps are high on this island. Sailing the capes of the north coast is a doozy for anyone with a skipper’s license. The pearly white bays of Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio are there for sunbathers. And you’ve got highland trails to hike between cacti groves and wildflower meadows.
Where else but St Tropez? This glitzy town on the French Riviera has hosted A-listers since anyone can remember. Greta Garbo, Clooney, DiCaprio, Beyonce & Jay-Z – they’ve all come and gone. As have any number of billionaire Russian oligarchs and oil princes with their priceless yachts and endless entourages. Hey – the town even inspired the branding of a major suncream make!
So, it gets warm here and there’s plenty of sun. But just how warm and just how much sun? Well…official stats reveal that there’s something in the region of a whopping 3,000 hours of the good stuff per year, while thermometers can regularly clock past the 32 C (90 F) mark in the midsummer.
The kingpin of the Cote d’Azur is well placed to handle all that. It’s a sailing mecca and has more idyllic beaches on the doorstep than you can shake your bottle of Dom Perignon at – the best are Bouillabaisse Beach and the crystal-clear waters of La Garrigue if you ask us.
Serre Chevalier…hang on. Isn’t that in the mountains? Yessir it is. But it makes it onto this list of the warmest places in France because it’s among the best of the southernmost ski resorts in the country, so often comes up trumps if you’re a powder hound who likes to hit the slopes under the UV rays and clear blue skies.
It’s all about the location. It’s been called “the sunny side of the Alps”. Just look where Serre Che – as the regulars like to call it – makes its home. It’s in a narrow cleft on the side of the Écrins National Park, less than 100 miles from the Mediterranean Sea at its closest point. That ensures even midwinter temps in fresh snow can hit 15-20 C at base level. Thermals might not even be needed.
Of course, the summertime also has its joys in Serre Chevalier. The mountains here are covered in hundreds of miles of marked walking paths, many of which coalesce at the lovely medieval city of Briançon. There’s not quite as much sun as you’d get down on the Cote d’Azur but June to August trekking trips are often a balmy affair.
Nice gets the same 3,000 hours of sunshine that blesses aforementioned St Tropez and the rest of the whole French Riviera. But it’s also tucked away on the eastern end of the Azure Coast, protected from the westerly winds by the bends of the French shoreline, right on the cusp of Monaco and Italy.
All that means that Nice is often baking at about one or two degrees higher than the rest of southern France in the peak of the summer, which makes it all the more important that the pebbly Plage de Carras and the sky-blue Med is just steps off the Promenade des Anglais, Nice’s main walking strip.
The other great thing about Nice is that there’s oodles on the doorstep that’s downright awesome in good weather. We’d totally recommend breaking inland to drive through the peaks and troughs of the Parc naturel régional du Luberon, where bastide hill towns with castles crown the massifs. Oh, and you won’t want to miss the glorious coves of the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which is just to the east of the center.
Okay, so we’re cheating a little here but French Polynesia is technically an overseas territory of France proper, even if it has a super high level of autonomy. Either way, there’s no escaping that it’s balmy and surely comes in among the warmest places in France for its tropical monsoon climate, which sees daily mean temperatures hovering around the 28 C (82 F) mark for virtually every single month of the year!
French Polynesia is a pretty vast region, though. It includes islands, atolls, and coral cays across something like 2,000 kilometers of the South Pacific. Among them are some places of nigh-on legendary status…
Take Tahiti, a land of black-sand beaches that drop into fish-teeming coral gardens. Or, Bora Bora, where overwater bungalows spill straight into seas of such clear blue you’ll need to pinch yourself to make sure they’re real. Then there’s Mo’orea, land of cloud-splintering peaks and whale-shark-filled lagoons. Or Hiva Oa, onetime muse to Paul Gauguin.
French Basque Country
The French Basque Country, also known as the Northern Basque, is one of the warmest parts of western France. Now, it’s important to note that this corner of the nation has MUCH more changeable weather patterns than regions on the Mediterranean, mainly because it feels the brunt of the Gulf Stream and the storms that roll in off the Atlantic Ocean.
However, the summer months are still pretty reliable territory for the Basque when it comes to decent weather. We’re talking temp gauges that can peak at over 40 C in June and August – that’s in excess of a whopping 105 F! Usually, though, things are tempered a little by the ocean breezes, so it’s typically closer to the 25 C mark in the midsummer.
That’s top beach weather for enjoying the much-vaunted bays of Biarritz and Bidart. And it provides a pleasant backdrop for summer surfers who come to chase the tamer waves that roll through the Bay of Biscay from May time onwards.
Buzzy, student-filled Montpellier is a rising star on the French tourism scene. It’s got a lively nightlife, great universities, the grand architecture of the Place de la Comédie, and handsome 15th-century Montpellier Cathedral. Oh, and it also happens to sit just a stone’s throw from the official hottest place in the country…
Yep, a searing temperature of close to 46 C (114 F) was etched into the climactic record books for the baguette-mad nation back in 2019. It was notched up in the small commune of Vérargues, some 40 minutes up the A9 motorway from Montpellier proper, in the height of a Europe-wide heatwave.
That makes the region around the city officially the warmest of all the warmest places in France. Thankfully, said region isn’t all that far from the beaches of Espiguette and the cooling lagoons of the Camargue Regional Natural Park!
The warmest places in France – our conclusion
The warmest places in France are the destinations that promise to crank up the thermometer readings come the summer months. They are the spots that offer sunbaked beaches and T-shirt weather while other parts of the nation are demanding coats and thermals. There’s a decent mix of options to get through, from the wave-splattered reaches of the French Basque country through the A-lister riviera towns all the way to the overseas territories of the nation deep in the tropical South Pacific.