Monthly Météo: Weather in SW France March 2013

This year's violets
This year’s violets

To say that the weather in March was variable would be an understatement. We had snow, rain, frost, high winds and sun (occasionally). On 31st March – Easter Sunday – we got out our garden bench and sat drinking apéritifs in the evening sunshine. Thanks to the rain, the weeds and the lawns are burgeoning. Owing to unexpected truces in the weather over Easter weekend I managed to get out and sort out both. But it was a close run thing.

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 March

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 March there were:

Pluses – 10
Zeros – 11
Minuses – 10

The chart shows the percentage of plus days each March for the past 15 years (the line is the trend). When we first moved here, March was generally pleasant and even warm. Things have changed since then and March is definitely getting worse. Last year was good but this year was among the worst. Nine Marches have been better, two the same and three worse.

Pluses in March
Pluses in March

April has started in the same vein, although we did get out today to have a mega bonfire. In 2011 we had barbecues on 1st and 2nd April – no chance of that this year.

The cuckoo is very late arriving this year. According to our statistics, it arrives on 29th March +/- 3 days. We still haven’t heard it, although friends 15 kilometres or so south of us claim they have. If it’s got any sense it will stay in Africa this year. But we have seen hoopoes on several occasions.

An article in Le Figaro suggested that this year’s unpleasant weather is a consequence of the polar ice cap melting. The cold meltwater flowing down south is affecting our normal weather patterns. Let’s hope they’re wrong and we’re not entering a mini Ice Age. We already spend a fortune on heating.


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. Since the beginning of January we have had a lot of rain. In total we’ve had 319.5 mm compared to the average of 214.3 mm. That’s 49% above average. I will concede that we needed it. But the first three months of 2013 have been persistently gloomy, damp and chilly. On the chart below the mauve bar is the actual, the red is the average.

Rainfall 2013 to date
Rainfall 2013 to date

The result of this rainfall, though, is that the trees and flowers are drinking it up. Our lawn is white with daisies: we haven’t seen that for years. And the violets were particularly vibrant this year – owing to the rain, I’m sure.

Frost nights

In March this year we had eight frost nights. This varies quite a lot from year to year. For example, last year after a mega-frosty and freezing February (24 frost nights) we had only three in March.

Here’s a common weather dicton (saying) for April:

Ne te découvre pas d’un fil le mois d’avril – don’t take off any clothes during April.

Quite right too. We still have the heating and woodburner going full blast. We keep looking at the water-filled pit in the garden – a swimming pool I think they call it – and wondering when we might get into it again.

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. Our weather is all over the place too. We had the lot today – sun, rain, hail and sleet! It’s b. cold too. It would be cheerful to be plunged into a mini Ice-Age, seems a strange possible outcome of global warming but makes perfect sense when you think about it. Time we wised up and started acting sustainably – may be too late, I’m afraid. Happy weekend!


    • Nobody can talk about anything else but the awful weather here. I suppose you get years like this but it may well be a side effect of global warming. We still have the heating going full blast and are wearing our woolly pullies. Will we ever see the sun again?


  2. On tuesday I actually ate out in a restaurant and took my jacket off, basking in the sunshine. It was short-lived. Today it was double jumpers.
    The Seine at Rouen actually froze in February 1896, thick enough to go and walk on it (and it’s tidal to Rouen). Thank goodness it hasn’t been as cold as that, but they didn’t know about global warming then, so maybe there’s hope for us yet?


    • It’s been very variable. On Sunday evening we had drinks outside in the garden in the evening sun. Today it barely got above 8 degrees, which is pretty pathetic in April. I gather Normandy has snow yet again.


  3. It’s been a pretty bleak spring so far! I’ve cut the grass twice which seems wrong since we’ve had so few nice days to make it grow! I heard a cuckoo two days ago when I was out walking my dog. Hope he brought his umbrella and rain boots with him!


    • Everyone is complaining that it just doesn’t seem to improve. The cuckoo is obviously giving us the cold shoulder this year! He must regret coming.


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