French Having a Bad Spring Too

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You think you're having a bad time of it with the weather in Ireland? Consider the poor French

In France, it’s still officially Spring until the 1st of June, but for most of the country, it feels a lot more like winter.

While we’re having a continually cool early summer here in Ireland, the Cote d’Azur is shivering in temperatures that are barely above 10 degrees, with rain soaking the red carpet in Cannes. In the Basque country, the winter-like conditions have led to snow on the mountains and some lower-lying areas and the fine days are not visible on the horizon just yet.

All the statistics in terms of rainfall, sunshine hours and temperatures are completely out of kilter with the normal seasonal figures, according to the experts in France:

“This is quite exceptional in terms of weather,” says Gilles Matricon, meteorologist at principal French weather forecasters Météo Consult. The weather patterns are more like “that of typical October”, adds Michel Daloz, forecaster with Météo France.

Temperatures in France are currently “3 to 5 degrees” down on normal figures, and even 7 degrees below normal in Bordeaux, says Daloz. Over the first five months of 2013, temperatures have been at their lowest average level for 25 years. In the town of Pau, for example (close to Lourdes), temperatures didn’t exceed 10°C at the weekend, even though it was 30°C on the 17th of April, according to Météo Consult.

The rain isn’t any better: On Saturday, the equivalent of one month’s rain (137mm) fell on Biarritz. Cannes suffered a similar fate with 72mm in 36 hours. In the South-East, the rain also caused the postponement of the top flight league match between Nice and Lyon and two corridas (bull-fights) at Nîmes.

In the mountains, snowfalls on lower slopes have been frequent in all the mountain ranges, including the Massif Central.

“We’re in winter conditions,” confirms Pierry Vray, meteorologist at the forecasting centre in Grenoble near the French Alps, who believes that you would have to “go back at least ten years to find anything like the situation in the Alps that exists at the moment.”

It’s all down to large depression that is “spinning like a crazy top over France”, according to Daloz. Rain and cold-air bearing clouds are gathering around this depression, turning their attention to the north of the country after having left their mark on the southern half.

According to Météo France, there’s no sign of the weather improving up to the end of May. As for the summer ahead, it’s still too early to tell. Normally, they say, a horrible Spring is not followed by a fine summer. There are exceptions to this, however, such as in 1983: “There was a lot of rain in April and May but it was followed by a very hot July.”

For everyone planning a holiday in France, here’s hoping that history repeats itself 30 years on.

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