Monthly Météo: 2011 Weather Roundup for SW France

Beech bush refusing to drop its leaves in the mild weather

First of all Bonne Année, Happy New Year, to all my readers. Apparently, 2011 was the year with the warmest average temperature since records began in France. I don’t know how they work this out and in July you could have been forgiven for regarding this assertion with a certain scepticism. However, read on and you’ll see that our own figures bear out aspects of this claim.

The Statistics Freak (SF, aka my husband) has been slaving over a hot computer to bring you the figures. I’ll give you those for December first and then provide the verdict on how 2011 as a whole compares with previous years.

Weather assessment for December

A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In December 2011, there were:

Pluses – 7
Zeros – 7
Minuses – 17

The chart shows the percentage of plus days for this December and the previous 13 (the line is the trend). This was truly a dismal December. Only one December was worse, in 2009. We had a lot of rain and it was pretty gloomy, although thankfully not cold. In December 2010 it had already snowed on three separate occasions.

Frost nights

Following a very mild autumn, December continued the trend. We had only five frost nights in the month, making six in total for the winter so far (including one in October). Only 2000 and 2002 have had fewer frost nights – four each – up to the same point in the winter.


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. This December’s rainfall was well over average with 132 mm compared with the 80.8 mm we would normally expect. It rained on 17 days compared with 11.6 on average.  

Rainfall for 2011, actual vs average

Verdict on 2011 as a whole

Whereas 2010 was one of the gloomier years we have had, 2011 was rather better. The overall number of pluses was 201 compared with an average of 180. It just pipped 2009 at the post (197 pluses). This might seem surprising when parts of the summer were so miserable, notably when we had guests. But we had an astonishingly sunny and warm spring and autumn. We even had barbeques on two consecutive evenings in early April – almost unheard-of. 

The rainfall figures bear this out. We have complete rainfall data for seven years. 2011 was the driest year in all that time, with a total of 669.5 mm, even drier than 2005 which had 681 mm. Up till December, the deficit was quite marked. I hate the rain and I loathe getting wet but even I had to admit that we needed it. 

I’m fascinated by French dictons (sayings). Their origins are mostly lost in the mists of time and they often seem to contradict one another. For example, I found one which said, ‘Brouillard en janvier, année ensoleillée’ – foggy January, sunny year – and another which asserted, ‘Brouillard en janvier, année mouillée’ – foggy January, wet year. No fog yet but it’s still early days.

There’s another which says, ‘Noël au tisons, Paques au balcon; Noël au balcon, Paques au tisons’ – Christmas by the fire, Easter on the balcony; Christmas on the balcony, Easter by the fire. Christmas 2011 was definitely Noël au balcon. We had Christmas lunch with friends on their veranda overlooking a magnificent view and were rewarded with a sunset that spanned the colours of the rainbow.

Whatever the weather, may you have a peaceful, prosperous and healthy 2012.  

Copyright © 2012 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

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