Late Summer Getaways in France
It is a well-known fact that tourist destinations and beauty spots in France are always buzzing throughout July and August, with families from all over the country making the most of their long summer break to explore the best of this beautiful nation’s beaches, history and culture.
Then, almost like magic, September arrives and ‘back to school’ brings a moment of calm. If you are lucky enough to not be tied down to taking time off during the school summer holidays, this can be a tempting time of year to take a French holiday. The sun is still shining, the days are still long and warm, but the holiday rush is over and prices for getaways suddenly drop.
However, ‘calmer’ in no ways means ‘less interesting’. There is so much to enjoy about France in September and so much to look forward to during a late summer or early autumn getaway.
In the wine-growing world, September means harvest season or, as it is known in French, the ‘vendanges’. For any wine buff there’s something thrilling about watching the year’s worth of hard work come to fruition (quite literally) as the vineyards fill with ‘vendangeurs’ ready to undertake the painstaking task of picking the grapes by hand. Although it is a busy time for chateaux in the Bordeaux region, many organise special harvest based tours which give you a unique insight into the winemaking process (and, of course, the chance to taste some of the produce).
At the medieval wine-growing town of Saint Emilion (just a 1 hr 30 minute drive from Siblu’s Les Viviers holiday park and 1 hr 45 mins from La Réserve), the start of the harvest is marked by a unique tradition dating back to the thirteenth century known as the ‘Ban des Vendagnes’. During the ceremony, which takes place in the UNESCO-protected historic town centre, new members of the town’s ancient ‘Jurat’ guild are sworn in during a ceremony in the church before processing through the winding streets in their red robes and eventually ‘declaring the harvest open’ from the top of the ‘Tour du Roy’. It’s definitely something you don’t see every day!
September also means the Marathon de Medoc (which takes place in the vineyard country around Le Domaine de Soulac). It’s a sporting event like no other in which participants, usually wearing larger-than-life fancy dress, run, walk or cycle the course between a range of historic chateaux, sampling wine and regional delicacies as they stop at each one!
Of course, it isn’t just the South West region that offers a chance to witness the wine harvest in September. Here at Siblu, we have a range of parks in other world-famous wine growing regions, from Les Rives de Condrieu in the Rhône Alps to Le Domaine de Dugny in the Loire Valley.
France’s historic sites and famous tourist attractions tend to be less crowded in September and, let’s face it, it’s easier to wander around Loire Valley castles as if you were royalty or to search for Roman ghosts in the amphitheatre at Nîmes when you there are fewer fellow visitors to distract you! An exception to this are the European Heritage Days, which is usually held in the third weekend of September. If your holiday happens to coincide with this weekend it is well worth checking out what events are taking place near you to mark the occasion. All over the country, museums and monuments throw open their doors for a range of (usually free) special events. There is bound to be something interesting going on, no matter which of our Siblu holiday parks you are staying at. That being said, Domaine de Dugny in the Loire Valley is the obvious choice for a holiday crammed with history… how many different chateaux will you manage to visit during your stay?
Who says you can’t sunbathe in September? The truth is that ‘Indian summer’ weather in the South of France is often perfect for a beach day. Last year, September temperatures regularly reached the mid-20s throughout September at our Mediterranean holiday park, La Carabasse. What’s more, the sea has had time to absorb a summer’s worth of sunny days, meaning there’s really no excuse not to take a dip in those clear blue Mediterranean waters.
Some of our favourite Southern beaches for stretching out and swimming during a September holiday include Estelle de Mar near Mar Estang, Valras Plage near Le Lac des Rêves and Rochelongue Plage near La Carabasse. Meanwhile, if you’re staying at Le Montourey on the Côte d’Azur, the calmer September months are ideal for enjoying the stunning natural environment of the Ile de Sainte Marguerite (just a 15 minute boat ride from Cannes) or the fascinating rock formations and sheltered beaches of the St-Jean-Cap-Ferret peninsula. September weather provides the best of both worlds: you can take a brisk stroll along the coast without worrying about overheating, and then can cool off with a dip in the ocean without fear of getting too cold!
All in all, these are just some of the reasons that September holidays in France hold a special place in our hearts. We hope we’ve managed to convince you that holiday season doesn’t have to end at the end of August (although ssssh don’t say it too loudly, we don’t want the school holiday crowd to get jealous). So, what do you reckon, will we see you in September?