France can be enjoyed any time of year, but the best time to visit is in the spring (April - May) or autumn (September - October), when places are less crowded and the weather is still desirable. The weather is temperate year-round, but regional variations include a Mediterranean climate in the south and wetter weather in the north near the English Channel. July and August are the worst for crowds, and in August, most of the country closes down (except for the tourist industry itself) to follow the sunshine in the south. Winter can be a great time to explore Paris when tourists have left, yet the restaurants are still lively with locals. Hotels used to charge off-season rates during the cold, rainy period from November to February; now they`re often packed with business travelers, trade fairs, and winter tour groups, and hoteliers have less motivation to offer discounts. Airfares are still cheaper during these months. They rise in the spring and fall, and peak in the summer, when tickets prices are highest.