Weather & Cycling Clothing

The weather in France can vary widely depending upon the time of year and your destination. Other than in the mountains, summer days are typically warm and can get very hot, especially in the south of France (i.e., in the Pyrenees and near Mt. Ventoux/Provence). However, particularly if you are staying in or will be cycling in the mountains, the weather can vary wildly within a stretch of an hour.

Like cycling in the Colorado Rockies or other mountainous parts of the U.S., days often start cool and sunny. However, the weather can change quickly and dramatically, often from warm and sunny to cold and rainy, particularly at higher elevations. For example, in June 2012 during a trip to the Pyrenees, a group of us rode both sides of the Col du Tourmalet on an extremely hot day – a thermometer at the base of the mountain said 39C, or 102F. The following day we rode the Col d’Aubisque and Hautacam in damp, cloudy conditions when it was at least 40F cooler. However, at the summit of Hautacam it was sunny and warm.

Therefore, it is critical that you are prepared not only for different conditions on different days but likely changing conditions over the course of a day. Even on a beautiful day always carry at least a water-resistant jacket that can be stuffed easily into your cycling jersey pocket. And I recommend that you also carry arm warmers and long-fingered gloves if there’s a chance of changing conditions, again typical at higher elevations. Carrying knee warmers is also a good idea for higher elevations. Lastly, consider a good under layer to wick away sweat; this will keep you significantly warmer should the temperature suddenly drop and on descents. You may not need all of these, but if you do you’ll be glad you’re prepared!

Most hotels in France will give you the day’s weather forecast, often including temperatures and conditions at different times of the day. Alternatively, if you have a computer, smart phone or other access to the internet you can check yourself on websites like or the local official website. Be sure to check this information daily, and prepare accordingly.