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Which month is better... May or July

Hello,
My daughter and I are supposed to be in Paris right now. We had a 16 day trip planned to celebrate her graduation.

Yesterday, I was looking at our calendar for rescheduling next year.

She is done with her first year of college early enough to go in May, when plane tickets are much cheaper. For the same amount of money for my cancelled United tickets (premier economy), I can get business class with Air France in May. Helpful for me, since I am six feet tall, claustrophobic, and have a hard time on planes.

But I don't know if there are disadvantages to going in May instead of July, which is when I originally looked at going.

We have never been to France. We were going to Paris, MSM, Bayeux, Rouen, and Disneyland Paris.

Thanks for any advice you can give. :)

Posted by
488 posts

I'd take May in a heart beat especially if it meant I could fly business class. Jul and Aug are the busiest and most crowded. Also more likely to have very hot temperatures. Europe isn't big on a.c. So it can get uncomfortable and affect your desire to see everything you want. May temps are cooler and you may have some showers (we got those in Jul as well) so don't forget to bring a light rain coat.

Other advice, skip Rouen and add Giverny - Monets house and garden.

You might also add some chateaux - Versailles but also many others. Last time I considered a Paris trip I found several one day tours from Paris.

Buy Rick Steve's Paris guide. I like his pocket guides but in this case you can get a more current one if you wait until Jan 2021 when the next update comes out.

Posted by
951 posts

The differences would be weather and crowds and maybe prices. May would be colder and wetter (but not necessarily cold and wet), with fewer people and lower prices. I think May would be nicer for those reasons.

Posted by
4212 posts

I can't think of any reason to go in July if you can go in May. It will be cooler and maybe a little wetter, especially in Normandy, but not likely enough to make much difference. And not as hot, which can be a real summer problem in Paris. And certainly not as crowded. I think there's a big holiday in May that you might have to work around. July has Bastille Day, which I've never experienced but would like to, but I wouldn't time a trip just for that. Days will be long enough, though not as long as early July. The airfare and business-class seating are frosting on the cake.

Posted by
488 posts

Also make sure you know what Air France business class is. It's nice but might not be what you're expecting. I have it booked for a Sep 2020 tour that isn't likely to happen and I'm happy with it but it isn't the same as bc on Delta. If you Google the aircraft model along with business class Air France you'll likely find YouTube videos. That's what I did.

Posted by
1071 posts

There’s almost no place in Europe that isn’t better in May than July. Definitely pick May, you’re getting the longer days with fewer crowds.

Posted by
16826 posts

There's a perceptible uptick in ridership on trains in July because the French themselves are on the move. I had trouble finding a place to store my suitcase, which was too unwieldy for me to lift overhead.

From a weather standpoint, I'd expect Bayeux, Mont-St-Michel and Rouen (which I liked a lot) to be better in July, but there's always a possibility of an unpleasant surprise. In late June/early July last year I ran into two or three days of 90+F temperatures in Brittany, so you just never know.

Edited to add: These are the May holidays:
May Day, May 1
VE Day, May 8
Ascension Day, May 13
Pentecost, May 23
Whitmonday, May 24

Someone on this forum previously mentioned that a lot of things were closed in Paris on VE Day, including grocery stores and some restaurants. I found there was no public transportation from the Nice airport into town on May 1, 2017. The city's streets were nearly dead, with most restaurants closed. Other than that, I haven't noticed issues on the May holidays during my two recent trips to France.

Posted by
1164 posts

The best time to travel is months after an effective vaccine is distributed to the world. That's it. It's not the complicated.

Otherwise, May beats July by a landslide for reasons mentioned above and more.

Posted by
110 posts

May! May! May! We always try to visit in April and/or May. Early June is okay. Weather in May is springtime weather. Always preferable to hot, crowded summer vacation days. Hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
110 posts

May is wonderful! I have been in Paris in May a few times, including two years ago. Cooler temperatures were fantastic. Walking around Paris sweating in July is not pleasant. Also, in May there were far fewer tourists. No question about this: go in May!

Posted by
348 posts

I will add to the chorus by saying May (which may also be helpful for your daughter if she wants to work/intern/study uninterrupted during the summer).

1 May is the biggest holiday to watch out for -- no public transport outside of Paris (where it will run on a Sunday schedule), most shops and restaurants closed, nearly all museums closed -- but it doesn't sound like you will be traveling on that day anyway.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all for the helpful advice about May!

It seems like the better time to go, for sure. :)

And as for why Disney? Because my family all likes Disney, especially my kids. We have been blessed to visit DisneyWorld a few times, and my daughter is very excited to see Disneyland Paris. Her sister, my older daughter, is really jealous that she will see Phantom Mansion before her. LOL

And you were right to check on the plane seats. The prices/features are definitely not the same. So I will have to probably bite the bullet and pay more for some business seats, so that I don't arrive with pinched nerves in my back and neck. At least I have another year to keep saving money, which I've been doing for three years already.

It does help that most of the Airbnbs look to be cheaper in May. Makes me wonder if the tours are also cheaper. Or the train tickets.

I was planning on driving to MSM, but now I'm actually thinking about looking for transportation from bayeux. We are staying for a night, so I'm worried that there is nothing that drops you off one day and brings you back the next. That is my next research project.

Anyway, thanks again!! I have been using Rick's books to plan this trip for over a year, and now have to rethink things with a completely different month and travel days of the week in mind. But I am a person who loves to plan!!

I may be writing for advice again, and I appreciate the help and patience.

Posted by
421 posts

I will add to the chorus for May......lovely month in France. The 3 times we have been there we always make it a point to try and go before Memorial Day......when the tourists seem to come out in droves. The flowers are blooming, the weather is nice.....go then. We have been in France in July when there was a heat wave and nearly died.....had to strip down each night and wash our sweat-filled clothes out to hang and dry for the next day.......thankfully we had hotel AC but it was pumping throughtout the night! We loved Bayeux (charming town, lovely cathedral, the tapestry), drove to MSM and spent a magical night on the island (bucket list item and so worth it) and thought our day visit in Rouen was worth it to see its cathedral and Main Street walk through the old town.....have a great trip!

Posted by
23547 posts

I'm glad that you chose May.

Train tickets are not cheaper in one month than another, but the discounted fare tickets sell out much faster so it seems more expensive in the busier times.

You can probably get somewhat cheaper Disney packages in the periods before schools break up in July.

Posted by
2681 posts

Another that is glad you chose May. It’s not as warm, prices are generally cheaper, and there are fewer tourists. Was at Disneyland Paris in 2004 when it was half price admission after 5pm. We saw everything and went on every ride at the park. Essentially, we were disappointed since it was so small. Hopefully more attractions have been added since then.

Posted by
4212 posts

I'd be surprised if you could find any kind of tour from Bayeux to MSM that stayed at MSM overnight. There are all-day tours but (based on others' accounts) I think they would be rushed and the Mont crowded in midday. Why not rent a car and just drive over there and back? Driving in France is easy outside the big cities. Use Via Michelin to plan your route.

Posted by
123 posts

If you pick July, know that crowds will be huge, and temps can get really hot. So if you go then, be sure to book rooms with A/C...

I have done Paris and other parts of France in May. I prefer the 2nd half of May because early May can be rainy and quite cool. The downside to later in May is you will encounter lots of school groups at the big sites, but you will be in France before the big influx of International tourists that starts mid June and is hot and heavy through July.

IMO MSM is not worth an overnight stay; there are day tours from Bayeux you can take and see everything there is to see there. Home base in Bayeux for your stay in Normandy, avoid moving around so much. If you have rented cars in Europe before and know the pitfalls and are comfortable driving there, having a car in Normandy is nice, but not an absolute necessity. The picking up and dropping off of rentals can be a pain - and I would not recommend renting a car in Paris to drive to Normandy, either. I took the train to Caen, picked up a rental, and it worked out OK for the drop off, too. But know that car rental agencies are rarely open on Sundays outside of the Paris region, or at CDG. Driving a car in and around Paris is, to say the least, challenging, so I advise not picking up or dropping off a car in Paris, or at CDG - I have done it, and it is very stressful.

Good luck.

Posted by
5701 posts

Go in late May. I would avoid July due to crowds and heat. There have been heat waves in recent years.

Posted by
688 posts

Because it's France, make sure you research any impending labor strikes during your dates. When we were in France in December, the transportation strikes caught us off-guard- no trains, buses, flights on the specified days. The dates had been posted 6 weeks in advance, but we were ignorant of the ongoing French labor situations. Hopefully our ignorance is your gain.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
2092 posts

I spent a week in Paris in mid-May and it was lovely--not too crowded and just a bit of rain one morning.

Posted by
11738 posts

May can be hot, or it can be beautiful, or it can be cold. I was there early May and it was cool and rainy. A few weeks later (the end of my trip), it was really nice. I went to Burgundy and felt early May was too early to visit but that wasn't true of Paris, you can visit anytime.

July is pretty much always hot and much more crowded. I avoid high season for the crowds as much as the cost.

What you see is based on your personal interests. Rouen has an extensive medieval center. If you're interested in that, it can't be replaced by Giverny. Giverny, on the other hand, is a beautiful garden and great for art lovers. What do you like most?

I was at MSM in late September; it was only somewhat crowded. I'd expect similar in May. In July, it will be crazy crowded and likely not as enjoyable. It's not far to St. Malo from MSM, it might be worth a half day to visit the walled city, again much less crowded in May than July.