Thursday, 14 November 2013

Some Like it Hot – What to Expect From the Weather on Cycling Tours in France

Cycling tours in France are all about being out in the open air, so the climate at your intended destination can have a big impact on your holiday experience. While some come alive in Mediterranean heat, others prefer a cooler climate – so if you're finding it hard to choose between Cycle Breaks' selection of cycling tours in France, we've put together a snapshot of the typical local weather conditions in the key regions where we operate: the Loire Valley, the Dordogne, and Provence.

While we cannot accurately predict or guarantee actual weather conditions for any particular tour, we hope the following will help you to decide which regions and times of year are most likely to suit you best.

The Loire Valley
The northernmost of the regions in which we offer tours, this is the ideal destination for those who like a somewhat cooler climate, but still with plenty of sunshine. The Loire Valley is an inland region and its climate is very strongly influenced by the River Loire itself, helping to keep things mild and a touch wetter than regions further south. Broadly speaking you can expect the Loire to be significantly warmer – by around 3 or 4 degrees C – and drier than southern Britain, especially in late spring, summer and autumn.

Even in August, average temperatures are around the 18-20C mark (average maximum around 26C) – very similar to a pleasant summer day in the UK. But if you prefer even cooler weather simply book a tour here in May or September for average temperatures of around 12-15C (average maximum around 20C). Average minimum daytime temperatures (which will usually occur in the very early morning) during summer are around the 14C mark, and are around the 8-10C mark in spring and autumn.

Rainfall is lowest here in June and August (with usually a slight increase in July and September), and on average there is some rainfall approximately 1 day in 3, although showers are generally short-lived. The number of rain days increases somewhat for April, May, October and November, but the total amount of rain actually falling is still on the lower side, again indicating shorter bursts of rain.

In short, conditions are very similar to Britain, but perhaps a touch warmer (depending on where you live in the UK!). If you are out and about all day you will probably require some sun protection, either suncream or clothing which covers the arms, legs and face. Light waterproofs are advisable for occasional use, but you are unlikely to encounter very cold weather in the main holiday season, so a thin extra layer should suffice for warmth in the early mornings or late evenings.

The Dordogne
The Dordogne region is considerably further south than the Loire Valley, but although you might have expected a distinctly warmer climate here, the difference is really only a degree or two.

The hottest months are July and August with average temperatures in the region of 21 or 22C (average maximum around 28C). Average minimum temperatures are also very similar, around 15C or so during summer and around 10-11C in spring and autumn. Your chance of rain is broadly similar to the Loire Valley, but slightly less overall.

The extra few degrees mean you need to take some extra care to protect yourself from the sun, especially the face and the back of the neck. Some light raingear and a layer for warmth are still advisable for the mornings and evenings during summer, and are essential for spring or autumn trips.

Provence lies on the south east of France and includes some Mediterranean coastline – so it's no surprise to see a more Med-like climate for tours in this region.

Here, the hottest month is July, rather than August, delivering average temperatures of round 25-26C, with temperatures of 31C possible. Average minimums during the peak months are around 18C, so you can expect even the early mornings and night times to be on the warm side.
This is a climate that will appeal to those who love the heat, but if you prefer cooler temperatures, you can still take this tour in comfort earlier or later in the year.

For instance, average temperatures here in April and May are well below 20C, with average maximums in the region of 19C in April and 24C in May. Alternatively, a trip timed for mid to late September will usually have similar temperature levels to May.

Rainfall is significantly lower too, the driest months being June, July and August, with only 4-6 days of rain expected per month. Even in April, May or September rainfall here is still below what you can expect midsummer in the Loire or Dordogne.

Sun protection is vital during summer, along with ensuring that you stay well hydrated, so either take a bottle of water with you or plan for regular stops for refreshments along the way. Very light raingear is still a good idea, although it is not likely to see much action, if any. And you are unlikely to need much in the way of warm clothing for summer trips, even in the evenings. Spring and autumn trips are likely to require an extra layer for early mornings and evenings however.

For more detailed advice about what clothing or equipment to take with you, please call us as we have personal experience of cycling in these regions.

 Cycling Tours France – Explore our full range of cycling tours in France.

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