France in Summer
France in Summer is an interesting mix of climates. Along the Atlantic coast you will have the cool ocean breezes. The southern coast, along the Mediterranean, is tropical. In the country’s interior, it can get quite warm. And in the French Alps, you again have cooler weather.
So the places highlighted here are mentioned to take advantage of these climates. They are very diverse in their locations, cultures and points of interest.
Alsace Wine Route
The Alsace Wine Route is a 100 mile long route running from Strasbourg in the north to Thann in the south. Some of the towns along the route include Colmar and Riquewihr. If these sound familiar, they are popular stops for river cruises on the Rhine, which runs alongside this route.
The Alsace region is famous for its wines, which include Rieslings, Gewurtzrtraminer, and Pinot Gris. Traveling through this region gives you a lot of opportunities to visit small French towns and try their different wines.
The French Alps - Annecy
Annecy is located in the Rhone Alps region, south of Geneva Switzerland. It is located on the banks of Lake Annecy and is a popular vacation spot for the French. It is a great place to get away and enjoy a small French village, but also enjoy a bit of Swiss influence as well.
The French Riviera
Even though I also recommended this area for the Springtime, you can’t pass up this location in the Summer. This is the vacation spot for Europe’s rich and famous. The towns in this area include Nice, Cannes Marseille, and even Monaco, but the one that really exemplifies this region is Saint Tropez. So you can spend your days here exploring the towns and cities of this region and still enjoy the beaches.
The high season for tourists in this region is July and August, so you may want to plan to visit this area in June. The weather will still be warm enough to enjoy the beaches, but the crowds will be less.
Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean between France and Italy and very near the Italian island of Sardinia. So there is a very strong Italian influence here as well. Even though the island is French, most of the inhabitants speak Corsican which is more of an Italian dialect.
Getting to Corsica is simple, either be ferry or by plane from the mainland. The ferries are available from either Nice, Monaco, or Toulon. Depending on your starting point and destination on Corsica, the trip by ferry can take anywhere from 4 to 15 hours.
While on the island, there are several resorts, beaches and towns to explore and enjoy.
Summertime Events and Festivals in France
Bastille Day is the French Independence Day. It occurs on July 14, and there are celebrations throughout France, just as you would expect for our Independence Day here. The largest is in Paris and includes a huge parade on the Champs Élysées.
The 24 Hours of LeMans
Possibly the most famous race in Europe, the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place on a road course of over 4 miles per lap, in the town of Le Mans. The race is really four races in one, with ultra-high-performance cars, purpose-built cars like Ferraris, Porsches, and Aston Martins, and their modified street-built versions as well. Each team has at least three drivers who will alternate their time in the car over the 24-hour period. THe race is also a bit of an all-star race with drivers from Formula 1, Indy Car, and other racing venues.
Nice Jazz Festival
The first Nice Jazz Festival was held in 1948, headlined by Louis Armstrong. Since then, it has been held yearly, except for the pandemic. It is known as the “biggest, flashiest, and most prestigious jazz festival in Europe”. Musicians performing there in 2023 included Chick Corea and George Benson. The festival is held in mid-July.
There are several ways to visit these areas, including river cruises, ocean cruises, and escorted tours. For a custom independent itinerary, I recommend the following. For this itinerary, I would allow a minimum of 10 days.
Paris makes the most obvious place to start, as you most likely will be flying in to Paris De Gaulle (CDG) Airport. Allow three days, not including the first day, to get a good appreciation of the city. There will be more than enough to fill your days there, including the neighborhoods of Montmartre and Marais, and walk along the Champs Élysées. Among other places to visit are the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Jardins de Tuilieries. There are also several world-famous museums, including the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay.
If you schedule your travel for mid-July, you can celebrate Bastille Day in Paris.
Starting in Strasbourg, you can make your way south along the route. Towns along the way include Kaysersberg, Equisheim, Colmar, Riquewihr, and Mulhouse. There are options for either self-drive or guided tours.
Places to visit in Strasbourg include the city center on the “Grand Ile”, the large island in the river that sits in the middle of the river. While there, visit the Strasbourg Cathedral, the Place Gutenberg square, and the St. Thomas Church. Then cross the Pont du Faison to visit the La Petite France neighborhood.
In Annecy, explore the town and castle. You can rent a sailboat on the lake, enjoy the Jardins de Europe, and visit the open air market.
In Saint Tropez, enjoy the beaches and high end shops throughout the town. You can also explore nearby towns including Monaco, Nice, Cannes and Marseille.
You can get to Corsica either by plane or by ferry. On the island, you can visit the birthplace of Napoleon, The island also has several beautiful beaches, resorts, and villages to explore and generally relax.
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