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9 of the best things about summer in France

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
9 of the best things about summer in France

If you're here on holiday then you can be pretty sure of a good time - but even for people forced to earn a living, the summer has a lot to look forward to. Here are some of our favourite things about a French summer.


There are some things about a French summer that make it extra special. Here are some of our favourites;

Posh picnics

The summer dining option is of course a picnic - but French ones tend to be a little better than a few soggy sandwiches and crisps. Think salads, cheese, charcuterie, fish and of course baguette - rounded off with seasonal fruit and an impressive dessert from the local pâtisserie. Wine to drink is de rigeur.

In the cities you'll see people flocking the parks to enjoy a good picnic over the summer - and if you're in Paris you can join the lively and buzzy crowds which can be found on the quais of the Seine on summer evenings.

If you like your picnics really posh, many chateaux host outdoor dining events with firework and/or music over the summer, while Paris has the annual diner en blanc.



Speaking of fruit, you will be spoiled for choice for seasonal fruits in the summer months. French markets always veer towards seasonality and this trend is particularly apparent in the summer.

Markets will be selling fresh, locally-grown cherries, apricots, peaches, melons, grapes, strawberries and raspberries according to the season.

If your friends aren't available for a picnic, grab a bag of fresh fruit and head to the park with a good book.

Second homes

Speaking of friends, it's likely that your French friends may have a second home - 20 percent of French people own a second home and as many of these are family properties even people who don't actually own a property may have access to a family place either in the mountains or by the sea.

MAP Where in France has the most second homes?


Play your cards right and your friends may take you along for a cut-price holiday in a different part of France.

Your friends might also have a pool - one in 20 French people own a private pool, the highest rate of pool ownership in the world. It's worth cultivating some friends who might invite you round for a dip (and poolside drinks of course) once the weather gets hot.

Summer drinks

This brings us on nicely to summer drinks - and France's tendency towards seasonality also extends to drink.

In wine terms this means rosé - suddenly the shelves of your local supermarket and cave will be filled with lots of delicious rosés, from dry and full-bodied to sweet and light.

If you're drinking en terrasse you'll see spritzes galore - from the classic Aperol to a Saint-Germain or Lillet, what these have in common is that they are cool, refreshing and not overly strong. 

Spritz, rosé and pressé: 5 things to drink in France this summer


Summer is festival season in France when even the smallest towns have at least one event. From communal dinners in small towns to huge music festivals like Rock en Seine, there is something for everyone in France's summer festival calendar.

27 festivals and events to enjoy in France this summer

Two of the biggest nationwide events are the Fête de la musique on June 21st when towns and cities around France host an evening of music events and the Fête nationale on July 14th - aka Bastille Day.

July 14th is a public holiday and the evening sees firework displays and parties across the country, with the famed Bals de pompiers (firemen's balls) providing an eye-catching diversion.


If you fancy something a little more relaxed, many of France's beautiful chateaux host special events in the summer, the better to show off their stunning gardens.

These can include fancy picnics, outdoor dinners, firework and music events and even the odd costume ball.

They of course remain open to visitors to simply drink in the historic atmosphere - both indoor and outdoor.

Lake beaches

Summer is peak time to go to the beach - but you don't necessarily need to be near the sea to do this.

Because France is pretty big, a large proportion of the population live a long way from the sea - local officials have therefore created 'beaches' at lakes and reservoirs around the country.

Some are a simple sandy stretch alongside a swimming area of a lake or reservoir, others have a much more lively vibe with sun umbrellas, bars, cafés, seaside entertainments like crazy golf and live music in the evenings.

A perfect way to relax without spending hours travelling or fighting for a parking spot once you get to the coast.

READ ALSO:The best inland beaches in France


Slacking off in August 

August is definitely the holiday month in France and it seems like well over half the country is at the beach. Many areas virtually close down in August as independent shops close up for three to four weeks and give their staff a well-earned break. Meanwhile any email is likely to return an 'out of office' reply.

8 signs that August has arrived in France

Even if you're one of the few people still working, it's often a fairly quiet time (with the obvious exception of certain industries like tourism). If your boss is away for the month of August you may find your lunch hours getting a little longer, your start times getting slightly later and your afternoon 'research' trips to the park becoming more extended.

Train trips

The French are a nation of staycationers - and when you look at the extraordinary beauty and diversity of France you will understand why.

This means that things are well set up for a break in another part of France, especially on the railways which see their busiest season in the summer.

SNCF runs summer sales and cheap tickets are available to certain groups including students and low-income families (via the government-subsidised holiday scheme). This year night-trains are also available to 8 French cities, for those who love a bit of Hercule Poirot vibe.

8 French night trains to take this summer


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