There is a simple way to find the best moments to spend time in France: regularly check the Eurostar website as periods when tickets are expensive often mean there is a special event in France such as Christmas,Easter and other bank holidays… French people have a great calendar regarding school holidays as these are well distributed throughout the year:
|Late February to early March||2-week holiday|
|Easter holidays||2-week holiday|
|May||May 1st => Labour Day|
|May 8th => Commemoration World War II Armistice|
|Ascension weekend: From Wednesday/Thursday to Sunday|
|Early July to late August||Summer holidays|
|Late October to early November||All Saint’s Day|
|Late December to early January||Christmas holidays and New Year’s Eve|
As you can see on the French calendar, there are holidays around the end of winter, that’s why ski resorts in the French Alps are full up during this period. The main advantage of these holidays is that the French don’t benefit from the same holiday zones depending on which academy they are under. It means each zone has the same duration (2 weeks) of holidays but not during the same period.
Here are the three zones:
– Zone A: Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse
– Zone B: Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans, Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen, Strasbourg
– Zone C: Paris, Créteil, Versailles, Bordeaux
The ideal period for your French holidays is obviously when Paris (Zone C) is not on holiday too. Representing 20% of the overall French population, you have more chance to be stuck in traffic jams when the Parisians leave Ile-de-France. Even on weekends it is still difficult to drive because Parisians often go for spring weekends if they have a country house. Should your French property be in Normandy or Brittany (which are often ideal places for a Parisian’s country house), you may be surprised by the number of cars on the roads going towards Paris on Sunday evenings during spring!
Despite the fact that it is always hard to know the ideal periods to go back to your French property, have a look at 3 main times when it is worth spending your time in France:
– To avoid crowded ski or seaside resorts, it is worth going to your French property on weekends or between holiday periods. For example, why not take a weekend at the end of September just after the beginning of the new school year? At the time, the high season is over and motorways are empty. As you may know, French motorways have tolls, but prices are cheaper than during summer holidays.
– In case you prefer the winter or you own an apartment in the French Alps, it is easy to bypass most French tourists. In late December and during the winter holidays in February or March (depending on the Zone) there is no availability in ski resorts. However, high season is far less busy between New Year’s Eve and late February and the affluence of holiday-makers as well as the resorts’ prices is lower than during the high season.
The best period to go to France is definitely during the Ascension weekend! In the French calendar, there is a 4-day weekend in May which could enable you to spend time in your property. Many French people take a trip to the Atlantic coast rather than the south of France just to enjoy the spring sun in a very windy place: this type of trip is very common in France.