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What Kind of Climate Creature are You?

Volume XX, Issue 24

A white poodle perched on the seawall in Nice

Let’s talk about the weather…in France.

According to MeteoFrance.com, a heat wave set in yesterday in France, initially from the Southwest to the Rhône valley and the Provençal hinterland, with maximum temperatures between 35°C and 39°C (95°F and 102°F ). The rise in temperatures is more limited in the north of the country, with maximums between 24°C and 33°C (75°F and 91.5°F).

RTL.fr calls this a “bulle de chaleur,” or “heat bubble” with peaks expected to approach 40°C (104°F) this week. All the meteorologists agree that it is a particularly early heat wave due to a localized depression between the Azores and Madeira which favors this rise of hot air.

Map of France showing the heat index forecast for June 15 2022

But, here’s the point. While Aix-en-Provence is experiencing temperatures as high as 98°F, Nice today has a high of 82°F. That’s a huge difference…for the same region!

A public square in Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

International Living will tell you that…

“France has a mostly temperate climate, although there are many regional differences. France generally enjoys cool winters and mild summers except along the Mediterranean where mild winters and hot summers are the norm.

Average winter temperatures range from 32°F to 46°F and average summer temperatures from 61°F to 75°F. For the most warmth and sunshine go to the south of the country. The Provence and Occitanie regions are characterized by mild winters and blisteringly hot summers. Along the north and central regions, Paris has cool and fairly rainy winters, though summers there are usually hot.

Winters are a lot colder in the eastern regions of Alsace-Lorraine and in the mountainous regions of the Alps, the Pyrénées, and the Massif Central. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel, western France has a temperate Atlantic climate, characterized by relatively mild winters (with average temperatures of 45° F). The chance of sea fog and fine rain is a regular feature of the climate. This area gets an average of 200 days of rainfall per year.

Brittany, in the far west, is the rainiest location of all, especially between October and November. Summers here aren’t overly hot either with the average temperature being 61°F. As you travel south along the Atlantic Coast the weather gets milder and more pleasant. Spring rainfall is still plentiful, but summers are more likely to be warm and dry. Here sunny days are plentiful throughout the fall. Farther east, toward the Alsace region, the country enjoys a drier, sunnier climate, but winters can be very cold. In the Massif Central the climate is harsh and cold.

France’s Mediterranean coastline rejoices in hot summers and it’s usually very mild throughout winter too. The region does however get battered by the mistral wind. Cold in winter, warm in summer, this blustery wind blasts down the Rhône Valley toward the Riviera. Winters here are the warmest you’ll find in France.

Abundant winter snow, yes, but the weather in the French Alps varies from north to south. The northern Savoy Alps can get quite a lot of rain year round and temperatures stay fairly low. During the warmer season, winds blow along this region’s valleys and by midday clouds have formed around most mountain summits. The Southern Alps bordering Provence have a more typical Mediterranean climate, with lots of sunshine, dry weather, clear skies, and no mist or fog. Storms may occasionally occur, but they are always followed by sunny spells.”

Colored map showing the temperature variataions between the regions of FranceThese are broad generalizations that are true, but climate is worth considering when choosing a destination for a vacation home or permanent home. When considering a particular region, one must dig a bit deeper than these broad generalizations, as there are large differences even within one region as you can see from the difference today between Aix-en-Provence and Nice.

For example, this description talks about the entire Mediterranean coastline that “rejoices” in hot summers and it’s usually very mild throughout winter, too, but how the region gets battered by the mistral winds. In truth, the Mediterranean coastline is vast and long and changes drastically from the west to the east.

The mistral is a strong, cold, northwesterly wind that blows from southern France into the Gulf of Lion in the northern Mediterranean. It is most common in the winter and spring, and strongest in the transition between the two seasons accelerating when it passes through the valleys of the Rhône and the Durance Rivers to the coast of the Mediterranean around the Camargue region. It affects the northeast of the plains of the Occitanie and Provence to the east of Toulon, where it is felt like a strong west wind. It has a major influence all along the Mediterranean coast of France, and often causes sudden storms in the Mediterranean between Corsica and the Balearic Islands.

Map of France with graphics demonstrating the Mistral winds

The mistral winds

The area around Cannes, Nice and Monaco benefit from their own microclimates. Situated on the Mediterranean coastline, but almost immediately adjacent to the Alps, which really plunge into the sea, Nice benefits from a sheltered climate—one of the reasons I am always touting Nice as such a great place to set up home.

There are thousands of microclimates all over France, so pay attention to the details. The regions favored by a microclimate in France are not very large and are sometimes limited to a town, or even a neighborhood. The difference in climate with the surrounding geographical area is often marked, influenced by a wind, a relief or an eco-landscape structure such as a forest or a marsh.

Take Colmar, the sweet spot of Alsace. The city of Colmar is located in Alsace in the department of Haut-Rhin. In the plain of Alsace at the foot of the Vosges mountains, this town is one of the least rainy in France. With 530mm/year of rainfall, it is even the second driest city after Marseille. Protected by the Foehn effect (a type of dry, relatively warm, down-slope wind that occurs in the lee side of a mountain range), you can walk without an umbrella in the picturesque neighborhoods of the old town.

Red flowers and colorful buildings along a canal in Colmar

Colorful Colmar

From Lège-Cap-Ferret to La Teste-de-Buch the Arcachon basin is located in the heart of the Landes de Gascogne. The region of the Arcachon Basin benefits from an important sunshine rate with annual averages of more than 2000 hours. Summers are dry and hot with average temperatures of 25°C (77°F) while winters are mild with average temperatures around 11°C (52°F).

Birdseye view of the Arcachon Basin

Birdseye view of the Arcachon Basin

Who said it always rains in Brittany? The microclimate that prevails in the Pays d’Iroise proves that it doesn’t rain more there than in Bordeaux or Biarritz. The temperature is mild thanks to an oceanic type of climate. Moreover the inhabitants claim that it is sunny several times a day in the area. The average temperatures vary between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius (34 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter and between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius (64.5 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer. Stay dressed in wool and stay happy.

The countryside in the Pays d'Iroise

The Pays d’Iroise

The Guérande peninsula benefits from a dry and windy oceanic microclimate all year round. The Guérande area in the Pays Blanc is one of the least rainy in France. The region can benefit from summer climatic conditions comparable to those of the French Riviera. The average temperatures oscillate around 20°C (68°F) from May to October. This favorable climate has allowed the establishment of heliomarine centers, thalassotherapy centers and medical establishments, in La Baule and Pornichet.

Port le Croisic in the Guérande

Port le Croisic in the Guérande

You want sun? Nice isn’t the only answer. The mild and sunny climate of La Rochelle has a temperate oceanic climate, making it a popular seaside resort. It has a sunshine rate of about 2,300 hours per year—as much as on the French Riviera—which makes this city a privileged tourist destination. La Rochelle benefits from a microclimate thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream and the regular effects of the Azores anticyclone. The average temperatures are mild, around 10°C (50°F) in winter and 20° (68°F) in summer. Good weather is a good excuse to go to La Rochelle.

Picturesque view of La Rochelle

La Rochelle

Favored because it is located in the plains of Anjou, the city of Saumur really benefits from the mildness of Anjou, popularized by Joachim Du Bellay. Temperatures are warmer than in the rest of the department and rainfall is less frequent. The place is ideal to taste, with moderation, a sparkling wine of Saumur or to visit the famous black frame of Saumur.

View of Saumur from across the river

Saumur from across the river

The climate in the Gulf of Frejus is privileged because it is little affected by the mistral, protected by the massifs of the Esterel and the Maures. It is in this region that the hours of sunshine are the most important in France with more than 2,700 hours per year. The temperatures are much more bearable than in cities of the Alpes Maritimes like Cannes or Nice, thanks to the favorable wind from the sea. All year round you can taste the Rosé de Provence on a terrace of the famous port of Saint-Tropez in the Gulf of Frejus.

So, check your own microclimate to determine what suits you best. Some people love the cool and dampness of a Normandy climate, with its maritime-oceanic humidity and rain for most of the year and rainy and cool summers. Others prefer the warmth and sun of the south. That’s my kind of climate.

What kind of climate creature are you?

A bientôt,

Adrian Leeds in a big floppy hat and sunglassesAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend our Living & Investing in France conference and tour in September. Space is limited for both. Registrations are already coming in. See details for our pre-conference webinar at the top of this newsletter. For full details on the conference and tour visit our website TODAY!

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2 Comments

  1. Rhonda L Neill on June 16, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you for this information. Nice is looking great weather wise for this recent retiree! Hopeful for a move there in early 2023.

    • Adrian Leeds Group on June 23, 2022 at 2:54 am

      As they say, “Nice is nice!” Let us know how we can assist with your move next year.

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