If you are planning on going on an activity holiday this year, the local weather is an important consideration in when and where to book. The types of activities you want to do will also affect your choices.
The French Alps is quite a large area with quite different and varying weather patterns which can all affect when and where to go choices.
The Southern French Alps in and around Gap has the sunniest weather as it gets the Mediterranean climate and boasts 300 days of sunshine per year. As you go further north the weather is more unpredictable.
In general the last snowfalls happen around the end of April but you can be surprised with a dump, even at low altitudes in May!
As the snow starts to melt, the flowers come out and the rivers fill up. This is ideal for walkers, mountain bikers, flower and nature enthusiasts and kayakers, rafters and other white water sport lovers. The optimum month for these activities is around June. The weather is usually quite warm but not too hot, and enough snow will have melted for the rivers and flowers to be in their prime.
June is also the month where the majority of the high road cycling cols are officially cleared for cycling.
Spring showers can also fall in June but the weather tends to stabilize towards the middle / end of the month. In the high mountains, many of the refuges, that were closed for the winter open around mid June, making mountaineering summits possible.
As the summer arrives, the weather becomes more stable, especially in the Southern Alps, with pretty much guaranteed sunshine. However, the heat also generates dramatic thunder storms in the mountains and many a summer evening can be spent being entertained watching an electric storm striking the mountains around you!
The warm sunny days are perfect for pretty much all activities, with rock climbing, canyoning, mountaineering, tree climbing, walking, paragliding, kayaking, swimming in lakes, via ferrata, biking …. and more all possible.
The water levels will gradually drop over the summer as the snow stocks melt, making white water slightly tamer and more canyons accessible (these are usually too dangerous in the big melt water period).
As the summer draws to an end, the thunder storms are less frequent and though the days can still be warm, the evenings are noticeably cooler.
This makes September and October perfect for walking, climbing, mountain and road biking. As October draws to a close, the weather becomes noticeably cooler and in November the first snowfalls will arrive and it’s time to start thinking of winter sports again!
Author Bio: Sally Guillaume is Director of Undiscovered Alps an activity holiday destination in the Alps. She has always had a passion for mountains and worked as an Outdoor Education teacher for a while, then the BBC and now of course living and working in the alps is a dream come true.