Monthly Météo: Weather in Southwest France April 2012

Orchid time

We wanted rain. We got rain. This April has almost beaten our record for rainfall and it has certainly been the worst month weather-wise since we started recording our statistics 14 years ago. Everyone is thoroughly fed up. A number of people have landed on my blog, having entered the search term, ‘Why is the weather so bad in SW France?’ into their search engine. Here are the details.                 

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.

Weather assessment for April

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 April, there were:

Pluses – 3
Zeros – 11
Minuses – 16

The chart shows the percentage of plus days each April for the past 14 years (the line is the trend). As you can see, April 2011 was the best April we have had. By contrast, April this year was not only the worst April but the worst month we have had during all the time we have been collecting the statistics. 



Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. This month we had almost double the average rainfall for April over that period. In one sense it’s just as well since it was desperately dry in March. We were already watering, which is unheard of at that time of year, and the aquifers desperately needed filling up. A blogging friend who lives by the River Lot emailed me today to say that the level in the river was high and the water was like melted chocolate: a far cry from a walk we did in the autumn when we were able to walk along the bed of a stream and keep our feet dry.

Frost nights


This month we had one frost night, which did our recovering plants and shrubs no good at all. Despite appearances to the contrary, this winter was not particularly rigorous, except for those two ghastly weeks in February. Apart from that, the number of frost nights was less than during the previous three years. As you can see from the chart, though, it seems to go in cycles.

In April this year, I managed to get out to work in the garden for three afternoons, including last Saturday, when I mowed and strimmed like a mad thing in a force 10 gale. Everything is terribly behind. We have not yet opened our swimming pool, which we normally do in March. The earlier you open it the more likely you are to avoid problems with algae etc. This year, we simply haven’t had the opportunity but are hoping to do so this week.

The 1st May, which is also la fête du travail, is also la fête du Saint-Brieuc. Who was he? My limited researches have revealed very little, except that Saint-Brieuc is a town in Brittany. Anyway, here’s a dicton (saying) for 1st May:

De la pluie le premier jour de mai, ôte aux fourrages de la qualité. If it rains the first of May, the fodder will be of poor quality.

Fortunately, it’s forecast to be sunny. Enjoy!

Copyright © 2011 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. WE drove from Rouen to Chatellerault/Poitiers on April 28th. It rained torrentially all the way, not one second’s respite. We stayed for a week in a beautiful gite wanting to make use of the garden after months being apartment bound. It rained, and rained, then thundered, then rained, the clouded over with black clouds. I was hoping the old saying went something like this ‘April wet – sumer fab’ -…?


    • April was indeed dire. May has been slightly better but still very unsettled, but at least it’s warmer. And it might even be hot at the end of this week. We can always hope…


  2. Been awful here too, but past four/five days been scorching. However, on Labour day today, the sky is a menacing grey, like death eaters and we’ve just finished our al fresco lunch… time to retreat!


    • This is the first nice day we’ve had for ages – unusual since it’s a bank holiday in France! We ate lunch outside for the first time in weeks and I got some much-needed gardening done.


  3. I think we have to get used to the weather patterns becoming more and more bizarre. Even though it wasn’t the worst winter ever, we lost some plants, shrubs and a tree. It’s never been that bad before. Today, thank goodness, it’s sunny and set (here at least) to be so for several days. Let’s hope May is a good month. When we first arrived in Hautes Pyrénées, we were told May was always the wettest month and it certainly seemed so, but each year it has been brightening up, bit by bit. We’ll see what 2012 brings. Such a useful idea, keeping the weather stats. It’s easy to forget or exaggerate exactly how hot, cold, windy, frosty and so on the weather has really been.


    • The winter overall wasn’t that bad – it was mainly that very cold snap in February that colours our opinion of it. We lost a few plants as a result and I’ve noticed that other things are very slow to come back this year, even if they aren’t dead. When we arrived we were also told May was the wettest month but, generally, it’s got better. We probably still need some rain but I’m desperate for some sustained sunshine!


  4. There was a report in the Sud Ouest last week from a spokesman from the Meteo – obviously someone who had an agenda to push – saying that if you put the rainfall figures together for March and April it came out to the average so the rain we’ve been having is nothing exceptional!


    • Well, if you put it like that…However, I would rather it had spaced itself out over the two months than concentrating itself all in April.


  5. Well, that’s a relief, I was beginning to think that we really had moved back to SW Wales, where I grew up! I am only cheered by the thought of how awful it would be to have raging drought instead, and I think there was a grave risk of that, since the winter rainfall has been very low. Poor old climate; it is definitely changing everywhere.


    • You don’t seem to have had much luck with the weather since you bought here. Even with the rain we had in April it probably isn’t enough.


      • Actually I’m finding that I’m not particularly bothered by the rain (apart from the chill it brings), because the water shortage is scary all over Europe. Anyway, it’s so extremely pretty here all the same; I’m enchanted by the profusion of wild flowers … just gorgeous!


        • It is very green and lush and you’re right the wild flowers are lovely. For me, this is one of the best times of year, up till mid-June, when it gets a bit dry and dusty. However, I could have done without so much rain in April, especially as it was cold along with it. It really was the worst month since we started taking records 14 years ago!


          • It’s not the rain that depresses me so much as the cold and the lack of sun. Rain whilst the sun is shining is beautiful and sparkles. It’s how i usually imagine April to be. Somehow this year has seemed so wintery by comparison.


            • I agree. I don’t mind a bit of rain, especially after such a dry March, but it was so chilly and gloomy in April. Now it’s changed completely and it was too hot yesterday! Never satisfied.


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