France, known by most as the country of sun, sea and wine. Lots of wine. If you are about to start an adventure in this generous country, you most likely want to know a bit more about the country itself. In this section we will start off with some generic information about the regions and climate differences. In the second part, we will give you some food for thought with some reasons (not) to choose for France.
Regions and structure
If we talk about regions, departments, prefectures, or sub-prefectures, it is good to know how these constructs relate to each other. The scheme shown here gives a good idea on how these layers relate.
There are 18 regions (of which 5 are overseas) that each contain 2 to 13 departments. Every department consists of a number of communities, of which at least one functions as an administrative center for their department (prefectures and sub-prefectures). In total there are more than 36 thousand communities and 102 departments. On our platform we mostly refer to the regions and departments. It is important to keep in mind that there has been a recent change with regards to the number of regions. In 2016 these regions were reduced from 27 to 18 and on some websites people still refer to the ‘old’ regions.
In general, France has a tempered climate. But at the same time, there’s quite a difference in climate depending on the region. French weather patterns are both under the influence of the Northern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time there is an influence from the mountain chains and there is a large difference if you go land inwards.
As a rule of thumb, you can say that the closer you are to the shore, the smaller the difference in temperature will be between day / night or the seasons. The oceans work as a ‘buffer’ for these differences. The further you go land inwards, the larger the temperature differences. Other rules of thumb are:
- Going East = dryer
- Going South = warmer
- Closer to the shore = smaller difference in temperature
These differences divide France into 4 categories of climate:
- (Semi-) maritime climate: Chilly summers, mild winters. There can be both extremely hot or cold days. It rains often and weather patterns are whimsical. Going more land-inwards, precipitation decreases, but if it rains, it’s going to be fierce.
- (Semi-) continental climate: Very warm summers and sometimes ice cold winters with a lot of snow.
- Mountain climate: Unpredictable weather patterns. During winters, there is a lot of snowfall.
- Mediterranean climate: Very mild winters and very warm summers. Fall and spring are fairly humid and bring along a lot of stormy weather.
If you like skiing, France wont let you down either. Not only do they have 2 infamous skiing areas glued to their borders, the Alps and the Pyrenees, there are a few lesser known areas like the vosges or Mont-dore? This last area might not have a glacier, if the snow is lacking, you can still visit the world famous spa in Mont-dore.