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Is August really a bad time to visit France?

Is August really a bad time to visit France?

Old Jan 6th, 2012, 09:56 AM
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Is August really a bad time to visit France?

We are trying mightily to get to France this year with our girls, ages 9 & 11. The oldest wants to do a musical that ends the last week in July, so the only time we could go would be August. My husband says that everything will be closed and if that's the only time we can go then we shouldn't go at all. Is this still true? We are interested in shopping (girls are very eager to purchase French fashions) and the usual tourist things. Would be spending 10 days in Paris and then 10 days or so exploring the countryside/ south of France.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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I've travelled in August. I did ~10 day drive through the Loire, with Paris tacked on.

Since it is holiday season, there will be places, in Paris for example, where the owners have gone out of the city.
And, being a national 'tradition', there are horror stories of cars parked due to traffic on the autoroutes in certain areas.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:06 AM
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It may have been true 50 years ago that everything was closed, but that's just a myth these days. Yes, a lot of French go on vacation in August, leaving their businesses closed for a week or two, but as a tourist you would be very unlikely to even notice that (unless you had, for example, very specific places you wanted to eat in large cities and those restaurant owners happened to be in the habit of closing in August).

It's simply not an issue. I'm often in France in August and, apart from the heat sometimes, and the traffic congestion in heavily touristed areas, am not inconvenienced in the slightest by closings or much else.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:10 AM
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Many restaurants in Paris will be closed, but many more will be open. As long as you don't have your heart set on a particular place, you will be fine.

When you book your hotel or apartment, make sure that it has air conditioning. France has had a number of very hot summers recently. You can take the girls to the plage along the Seine to cool off as the Parisians do.

I would not choose to go to Provence (hot and crowded) or beaches (stony and crowded) in August, but you may be from somewhere that is warmer than where I live, so it may not bother you. But this is where everyone who is not in the big cities will be, so you will need reservations soon.

Consider Perigord (the Dordogne to Britons and Americans)or maybe Alsace or somewhere in the Alps.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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We were in France in early August and had no trouble at all. We started in Cherbourg, went through the Normandy beaches and into Paris. I don't remember finding anything closed that we wanted to see/do. Certainly the museums and churches were open, and there were plenty of restaurants and creperies open, along with the stores on the Champs Elysees, Versailles, etc. BTW, one of my kids' favorite things to do was to push wooden boats around a pond outside the Louvre (in the gardens between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde). It gave them a chance to just chill.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:40 AM
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That's kind of what I was thinking, that not everything would be closed. We can leave for France on July 23rd, if we headed straight for Provence and then finished in Paris would that be a better plan to avoid crowds? Heat is not a problem, I grew up in Sacramento and we've visited Greece in August as well as Costa Rica and Mexico in July.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:44 AM
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Oh, and how can I forget, last year DC and Williamsburg during their heat wave, 114 heat index was too hot even for us!
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:45 AM
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Oh, and French Alps instead of Provence sounds cool but my hubby visited Provence when his sister went to college there and wants to show it off.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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Monica, get to Paris via TGV?
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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The differene in the heat is that inthe US everyplace has AC. In France many places, including hotels, restaurants and shops do NOT have AC (or have a european type of "air cooling" that lowers temps a few degrees. High temps ar enot that bad when you can sleep and have an indoor break to cool whenever you want. If you' stuck in it 24 hours a day it can be awful. (The last couple of summers there have been quite a few deaths due to the heat and people having no access to AC.)
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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Hi Monica,

I am also considering a trip to France in August and I share your concern. I've done some research and, as other posters have mentioned, I have found that the touristic sites will be open. Also, while some smaller family-owned restaurants/shops may be shut for August holidays, there will still be many options. I've traveled to France many times (just never in August) and I adore it. My advice would be to go for it. It may take a bit of extra planning, but it will be 100% worth it.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:56 AM
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I love Paris and the rest of France in August, even though August has been too cool in northern France for the past 4 years. Yes, there are crowds (but not as bad as in July), but after going to a lot of places completely out of season when they are empty, I have learned to appreciate the ambience and the animated atmosphere of seeing some places at the height of tourist season. On top of that, July and August are when most of the most fascinating festivals take place, and some of them are absolutely stunning.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 10:56 AM
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You won't avoid crowds in Provence whether you go at the beginning or end of the trip. But it might just be easier logistically to hop on the TVG right from CDG after landing and go straight to Provence.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 11:02 AM
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Many of the people who leave Paris in August are vacationing in the rest of France. So everywhere except Paris, it is high season and things will be hopping.

If you go to Provence the last week in July and then to Paris, you may avoid some crowds in Provence. If you did it in the other direction, you would hit Paris before those businesses close which may be closed for August. Either way sounds good to me. As far as I am concerned, there is no bad time to go to France.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 11:02 AM
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Thanks for all of the info. We probably will just go to Provence first because of the train thing. Can we get by without a car if we do that? Or do we rent a car when we get to Provence?

I'm really not worried about heat. Being from the Bay Area of CA we don't use air conditioning as much as some areas of the country (our house doesn't have it) so we can tolerate pretty high temps although I will try to ensure the hotel has air conditioning to make sleeping easier. But we really do do heat! Some of the places in Costa Rica don't have air either, and it's pretty humid there.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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We were in Provence a couple of years ago during the middle of August. Cannes was hot but our hotel had U.S. type air conditioning. When we were in Avignon and the surrounding area there was no need for air conditioning. While crowded it wasn't too bad and everything was open. I do remember that people who drove from Paris complained about the traffic going south on the Friday and Saturday. We drove west from Nice and had nothing.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 11:10 AM
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I would highly recommend renting a car in Provence. Public transportation is not going to get you, or not easily going to get you, to the places you're likely to want to visit.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 11:47 AM
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I have lived in California. It is hot, but humid unlike the East Coast where I have also lived. France in August = usually hot+humid = uncomfortable.

Also, whether you need a car in Provence or not has to do is what you meant by Provence. It is a big region.
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 11:57 AM
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Provence is not hot and humid in August. It is quite similar to southern California. Northern France can be hot and humid, but it will be a relief if we do not shiver through our 5th consecutive summer.
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Old Jan 7th, 2012, 09:21 AM
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I would recommend Sète which is a authentic and unique town located just 15 minutes away from Montpellier, and just an hour's drive from Nimes, Beziers, Arles, and other beautiful sights. It is bordered by canals and oyster beds on one side and beautiful sandy Mediterranean beaches on the other. It is very lively in August with the local water jousting festival, fabulous seafood and local wines are the best in the south of France. Treat yourself to the gourmet walking tour "savouring southern france" , visit the famous outdoor market, sample cheeses, pastries, and other fine foods. Your daughters will love the beaches (no beaches in Provence or very very crowded in July and August - I know because I lived there!!!) , boat trips on the canal and Mediterranean, water sports, cycling paths, music festivals...
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