The weather across the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region can be quite varied, so this page is intended only to give you an idea of what to expect. The department of the Var and the western part of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence are often a few degrees hotter than the eastern regions. The mountains, of course, get much cooler at night, and are more prone to summer storms in the afternoons.
We've had many email request like "what clothes should I bring for my visit in October". Seasonal weather is not consistent from year to year, and even today's forecast for tomorrow often turns out to be wrong.
Our What to Wear page attempts to give you a rough idea of what kind of clothes to bring.
Our Temperatures page charts the monthly temperatures for the Provence Côte d'Azur area and the Rhône Valley.
Five-day forecasts are available from the French weather bureau and on several Web sites.
www.accuweather.com/ has 5-day forecasts, but you need to select "World" and then type in "country,city" - there's no list of available cities.
www.wunderground.com gives historical weather details way back to 1996. This allows you to pick a period, say 3rd Oct - 8th Oct 1997, 98, 99, 2000 etc and see what the weather was like each day of the week for the year in Nice. May help to decide which period (based on balance of probabilities) to go to the area. [Thanks to Peter Tachauer for this tip.]
Springtime temperatures are usually shirt-sleeve warm during the day and cool enough for light jackets at night. Weather often changes day-by-day, with a mixture of clear, sunny days interspersed with two or three days of partial clouds and some rain. When the rain does come, it comes in torrents, but usually briefly.
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The Mistral wind blows mostly in the spring. The Mistral comes down the Rhone Valley and then arrives here as a west wind, attenuated by the mountains. The advantage of the Mistral is that it blows away the haze; if you're in the hills or mountains Beyond the coast, you can see forever.
There's a story that the old Napoleonic law excused "crimes of passion" committed when the Mistral had been blowing for over three days. If you see the tiny mountain villages of ten or twenty stone houses and imagine what it would have been like isolated there a hundred years ago during a days-long Mistral, you can understand how this story could be true.
Mountainous regions are often clear and sunny during the first half of the day, but watch out for the clouds that arrive suddenly in the afternoon. Temperatures in the mountains drop to near freezing at night, even during the sunniest of days. Starting a day of hiking at 6 or 7 AM calls for long pants, with a change to shorts as the morning warms up.
Summers are hot. But this isn't a day-and-night heat of the Southern United States. Even on the coast here it cools off at night. The air is often hazy, especially in the mornings. As the morning warms up, the haze burns off somewhat, especially as you get higher up into the hills.
In the mountains it is always cool at night, even in mid summer. In exposed areas or very high passes, the nights get cold enough to be uncomfortable if you're sleeping out.
The inland temperatures can easily be ten degrees cooler than on the coast. Be careful in the mountains during the summer days. The thin air and cool mountain breezes can mask the fact that you might be getting a real sunburn.
The forests here are mostly evergreen (even most of the oak are non-deciduous) so the Autumn colors are somewhat subdued for such a heavily forested region.
This is the stormy season for the Beyond region, and mountain storms can be fierce, so prepare well for your outdoor activities. There aren't constant storms, however. Autumn days are usually clear and brisk, an excellent time to see the sites without the summer haze, and with fewer people.
Winters are mild right along the Mediterranean coast. Back in our Beyond country is another story, however.
Within just a few kilometers of the coast, the land goes up quickly to 600-1000 m, even before rising up into the Alpine regions, and that means snow during the middle of most winters. Higher into the Alps, from around 1500 m on up to 3000 m, the snow starts earlier and ends later. If you are planning to go on late winter (or even early spring) hikes in the Parc du Mercantour, for example, expect to find snow.
Except for occasional stormy days, the winter weather can be brilliant: there is no haze, and the sun often shines brightly in clear, blue skies.