When to Go

Southwestern France can have bad storms even during the summer because of the nearby Atlantic. Happily, inclement weather doesn't hang around for long. The French usually vacation within their own national borders, so that means mid-July to the end of August is when you'll have company—lots of it—especially in the more famous destinations. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, when there aren't as many tourists and the weather is still pleasant. The vendanges (grape harvests) usually begin about mid-September in the Bordeaux region (though you can't visit the wineries at this time), and two weeks later in the Cognac region, to the north.

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