Monthly Météo: January 2012 Weather in Southwest France

Evening sun

Now that all the excitement about my various awards has died down it’s time to resume normal service. And the SF has been badgering me to post up the weather stats for January. Winter had to arrive sometime and it did at the end of January with a vengeance. The temperatures are now below zero, day and night, and the wind chill factor is vicious. This is forecast to go on for another 10 days. We get lovely sunsets, though, like the photo above.

Every month I post an update on how the weather has been in our corner of southwest France, based on the statistics we have kept since 1998. To see the other weather posts, please click on ‘Weather’ under the Topics tab in the right-hand sidebar.

Here are the figures.

Weather assessment forJanuary

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 January, there were:

Pluses – 7
Zeros – 13
Minuses – 11

This makes January 2012 a rather gloomy one, although it wasn’t especially cold – except right at the end. The chart shows the percentage of plus days each January for the past 14 years (the line is the trend). Only four previous Januaries have been gloomier than this one and, as you can see from the chart, there’s a huge variation between years.


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. This January it rained almost as often as the average (10 days compared with 10.4) but the volume was much less (51.5 mm against 80.8 mm). We rely on rainfall in the winter months, especially January/February to refill the aquifers, so the trend of low rainfall is continuing. And the first 10 days of February look like being dry – if bitterly cold.

The chart shows the volume of rainfall against the average for the year to date.

Frost nights

There were 11 frost nights in January, bringing the total for the winter to date to 17. February will certainly add to that figure.

This morning (Saturday) it was -10°C with a wind chill factor that probably reduced it to -17°C. We had a light dusting of snow on Thursday, which didn’t last long, but there’s more forecast for tomorrow.

Finally, the usual dicton (saying).

Beaux jours de janvier trompe l’homme en février – Nice days in January deceive people in February.

That’s just what has happened this year, except that there weren’t particularly nice days in January, it just wasn’t cold. I can remember one February early on when we were in shorts one day…

Copyright © 2012 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. Big fan of the SF-will he get his own blog? Be interested to hear whether everything closes down in your part of France and how public transport is affected. As you know in the UK all the airports and trains shut this weekend with a few centimeters of snow!


    • The SF seems to be developing a fan club of his own! I’ve often suggested he should put his stats up on a site so that people can access them. They’re really quite detailed, if you’re interested in that kind of thing. I just post a brief summary every month.

      We’re not used to snow down here so when it arrives things tend to grind to a halt. The major roads are gritted but nothing else. People just stay at home. A local farmer usually comes and unblocks our lane after a couple of days with a snowplough attachment to his tractor. In eastern France and the mountain areas, where they are used to it, they’re much better organised.


  2. Don’t want to go on about this, but here in the Finistère today the temperature went up to +7°C, it rained all night and was very windy, no frost at all, and beautiful sunshine at least half of the day. On the météo they only ever talk about the Finistère if we are having rotten weather, not if we are the best place to be in France…
    I’m sorry you didn’t get to your friends for lunch.


    • Yes, I’ve noticed they tend to single out Finistère when the weather there is bad – bad news is always good news, if you see what I mean. They also always single out Aurillac, about 120 km NE of us, which can be pretty cold in winter but it isn’t always like that. There are only a few days every winter when we can’t get out. Unfortunately, it happened to be this weekend. Just part and parcel of living here. However, no one tells you beforehand that it can be like that…


  3. Hi Vanessa,
    Your stats are most impressive. My fella Leaf, used to keep a note of all such stuff but then got stuck into writing a book and it all went by the board. Maybe he’ll get around to it again one day. It is interesting to compare the trends. I can remember taking my cats (!) for a walk wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt in January in T & G in the early nineties. Those days have gone, I fear.


    • Thanks, Sue. The SF will be pleased. Perhaps I should give him a special award for his stats. It has got to the point where he could never give up doing them. In fact, hapless friends and neighbours are press-ganged into keeping them for us if we go away! They regard it as a very heavy responsibility and there are extensive consultations before our departure about the precise meaning of plus, minus and zero. Noting the contents of the pluviometre is somewhat easier.

      P.S. I used to have a Burmese cat who insisted on coming for walks with me and my labrador but he was so slow that I had to shut him in to prevent him from following us.


  4. That’s a very apt dicton indeed! Warmed up to a balmly minus 4 today so we’ve been out and about delivering hay bales to the animals and walking end to end on the lake. Carefully!


    • Glad you didn’t go through the ice! Thanks to the weather we’ve missed a lot of things this weekend, including the violet fair at Toulouse and lunch with friends. The roads have just been too treacherous – especially since it warmed up during the day, which makes the roads their most dangerous. Just hunkered down in front of the fire with a bowl of soup and a glass of wine. What else can you do?


  5. It’s not that our electricity supply is not as robust, it’s that we only produce 10,5% of what we use, so the rest has to be brought in and there is a problem of “acheminement”, whatever that is in English. We get an email a day asking us to be careful between 18h and 20h, but honestly it isn’t that cold. I have mains gas central heating, I put my machines on at night, and otherwise just have a few lights on. I don’t know if you saw the météo map this evening on the news, the whole of France was either orange or yellow, and just the Finistère was green. I had a giggle about that. It’s raining, not freezing, and doesn’t look as if it’ll turn to snow. Bon courage if you are snowed in!


    • I see. I knew there was a problem up there but didn’t know exactly what. Just rejoice if it’s only raining chez vous. It’s minus 7 and snowing onto hard ground – and we’re supposed to be going to lunch with friends. Not sure we’ll make it – or if we do, whether we will get back!


  6. I think all your statistics are rather neat!
    Up here in the Finistère, it’s cold, but not that cold. I mean it is freezing at night (whereas up to this week we have only had 2 frosts so far this autumn/winter), but not that badly (-3 ish, a bit colder last night). But yesterday afternoon, for instance, the temperature went up to 6° whereas most of France did not get out of negative temperatures. All the same, last week I did my shopping without a jacket on – I’m not doing that this week!


    • Thanks! I’ll pass on the compliment to my husband, aka the Statistics Freak (SF for short). He does all the number crunching – I just report it. We have more of a continental climate down here – so hot summers and sometimes very cold winters – in addition to which we are at 1,000 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Massif Central. Hope your electricity holds up, up there – I gather the network is not as robust as in other parts of France and there’s a lot of strain on it at the moment.


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