Monthly Météo: Weather in SW France May 2012

A good year for poppies

Contrary to popular opinion, this May was one of the best we’ve had in 14 years. However, temperatures were very variable. This, in my opinion, contributed to “the cold”, which has been around most of our acquaintances and landed up with me 10 days ago. I’m still trying to shake it off. All marks of sympathy will be gratefully received as I struggle on to bring you the weather report for May.

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 for May

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 May, there were:

Pluses – 20
Zeros – 8
Minuses – 3

The chart shows the percentage of plus days each May for the past 14 years (the line is the trend). This May was one of the best, pipped at the post only by last May, which was exceptionally good, and equalled in 2009.


La Bonnette – raging torrent

Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. In May we had slightly more than the average rainfall (91.5mm as against 87.7mm) and it rained on 10 days as opposed to 10.4. With the high volume of rain we had in April, this means we have made up some of the deficit and are now running at about 90% of average rainfall for the year to date. The farmers are pleased since their hay crop has been much better than last year’s, when it was very dry.

We had a very wet spell a couple of weeks ago, which turned the local streams into raging torrents (see the photo of the River Bonnette above).

June has started hot and sultry. This is bound to end in thunder and cooler weather for a couple of days before it starts again. Here’s a dicton (saying) for June.

S’il pleut en juin, le jardinier ronge son poing. If it rains in June, the gardener bites his fist (out of anguish, I suppose).

Thanks to all the rain we’ve had, the fields and hedgerows are a riot of wild flowers this year. Here are a few shots I took on our weekly walk last Wednesday.

Copyright © 2012 A writer’s lot in France, all rights reserved


  1. How exciting to fall upon a weather historian for the region where I plan to spend my summer! I’ll arrive next week and stay in Mirepoix through August 31st. I come from the land of year-round flip-flops. I live in Central Texas where it’s HOT just about all the time. We only really need warm sweaters during the summertime for inside office buildings, which are typically air-conditioned to Arctic temperatures. I’m struggling with what to pack for my trip. I just can’t get my head around a July and August that could require sweaters and close-toed shoes… Friendly advice? -Mandi, Austin TX


    • Hi Mandi, I hope you’ll enjoy your stay and that the weather will be kind. We are some distance from Mirepoix, although broadly in the same region, so I can’t speak with any authority about the weather there. However, I think you need to prepare for all eventualities! Mostly, summer in France is hot but there are some notable exceptions – like July last year, for example. If I were you, and if you have space, I would pack one medium-thickness sweater and a pair of close-toed shoes. It’s useful to have a pair of flat, close-toed shoes anyway if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing. Sandals are not so good for walking around a lot. I would also make sure you have a light raincoat or waterproof jacket of some description. I am hoping that if you bring these things you won’t need them and the summer will be good – so I have an interest in this!


  2. Sounds like much the same as we had here. We’ve noticed how fantastic the wild flowers have been this year and today we were picking wild strawberries. Delicious! June has been a bit variable so far but then I don’t remember it being too settled for a few years now. We see what your next weather report brings to light.


    • June is often unsettled until about two-thirds of the way through and then it seems to settle down. I think the next 10 days or so are forecast to be rather variable. I have been taking loads of photos of wild flowers since I don’t think I have ever seen them in such abundance here.


  3. Poppies and roses are prolific on this side of the river as well. I thought May was wonderful especially compared to April which was the pits!


  4. Good year for poppies and a brilliant one for roses. The roses I brought back from England three years ago have rioted into full bloom for the first time – my OH says it was because April was so cold it reminded them of the mother country.

    Extending full sympathies for the cold – mine went, then returned on the day I got back from Sicily and is now hanging aaround in the form of the most appallingly sounding consumptive cough.


    • The roses are lovely this year. Everyone agrees. No doubt the rain in April helped.

      Sorry to hear you too have had this nasty cold. Why is it that colds are so much worse at this time of year than in the winter? I am still deaf, hoarse and sinus-ridden after 10 days! Thanks for the sympathy – much appreciated. Sounds like you could do with some too.


  5. Sounds lovely. It’s been on and off cold and rainy here, then hot beautiful sunshine … a funny mix. What is the flower above the rosa canina … is it some sort of wild pink?


    • The weather has been rather similar here. Yes, it’s a wild pink. But don’t ask me for the botanical name – most of our books are inaccessible at the moment since we’re having the bathroom done up next to the study.


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