What to wear when visiting Provence
Clothing requirements in Beyond can be planned somewhat for the season, but the weather varies so much from year to year, that a surprise is to be expected.
Bring light-weight rain protection: a windbreaker or at least a compact umbrella. Short, but very heavy, rain showers can occur any time during the year. Admittedly, they're less likely during July-August at the beaches or in the fields of the Vaucluse.
Evening and Restaurant Wear
Expensive restaurants and casinos expect well-dressed clientele. Not all expensive restaurants require ties (for men), but long pants and sweaters or jackets would be expected.
Medium-class restaurants are usually informal. Even with linen tablecloths and an army of wine glasses on each table, clientel dress will range from suits and ties to jeans and open shirts. Neatness is expected, though.
Summer on the Coast
July and August on the coast is hot, and normally dry. The warm season is often from May-June to Sept-Oct, but late spring or early autumn can be wet and stormy.
Clothing requirements range from nothing (for the nudist beaches) to shorts and thin tops for daytime wear. Skimpy clothing is common in fast-food and beach-side establishments, but most shops and restaurants prefer, and sometimes require, that clients be dressed: shorts are fine, but bare torsos and bare feet are not.
Summer in the Hills
Summer in the back country of Provence is sometimes hotter that on the coast, but clouds and afternoon showers are more likely, so having light-weight rain protection is more important. Shorts and teeshirts are common, but dressing neatly is expected in small villages more than it is in beach-side sandwich shops.
Spring or Autumn
Warm weather can arrive in April or as late as July, but spring in general is mild. Autumn can start seriously in September, but an Indian Summer is common in September and October. In most of Beyond, autumns are mild.
For us, mild means shirt-sleeves or teeshirts during the day, and long pants, long-sleeved shirts and light sweaters in the evening. Both spring and autumn can be wet, and wet means short but extremely heavy downpours.
In the hills of the back country, expect clouds and rain late in the afternoons, and much cooler evenings and early mornings. Jackets or coats are recommended.
In the Mountains
Summers tend to be cooler in the mountains than on the coast, but the sun has more effect at the higher altitudes, so skin protection is essential, and long-sleeved shirts should be brought along to protect the arms. Even in the summer, nights can be cool, so include a light sweater along with your waterproof windbreaker.
Spring and autumn in the mountains can be cool during the day and downright cold at night. Good coats, heavy sweaters, and warm socks are suggested. Dressing in layers can be handy for adapting to temperature changes: a solid shirt, light sweater and waterproof jacket are more adaptable than a thick ski sweater or very heavy coat.
Along the coast and in the lower parts of the interior, winter days can range from mild to cool, meaning shirts and lightweight sweaters to heavy sweaters and coats.
Mornings and evenings can be downright cold, so good coats are needed and light gloves are handy. Skies can be overcast, and if it drizzles or rains, the cold seems even colder.
Clear winter days can be shirt-sleeve warm in the sunshine, but step into the shade and it's suddenly very brisk; light sweaters or jackets are needed.
Winter snowfall is normal above 1000 m altitude, sometimes above 600-800 m. This means that the coast is free of snow all winter, but the hills even a few km inland can be snow covered. Main roads are kept open, especially to the ski stations, but many of the mountain passes are closed all winter, and often well into the spring.