Monthly Météo: SW France Weather May 2013

Flamingos in the Camargue
Flamingos in the Camargue

What can I say about the weather down here in May that is repeatable in polite company? Judging by the number of people who landed on my blog asking, “Why is the weather so bad in SW France?”, many others are of the same opinion. This was the worst May in our 16 years here. Read on for the depressing 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.

Not only was May the worst we’ve experienced, but it also continues the run of miserable weather that started last December. May is often cool and damp but this year beat all the records. Les Saints de Glace lived up to their reputation. We had the central heating on all last week and lit the woodburner in the evenings.

I spent a few days in the Camargue with a friend in late May. Even there, although the sun shone, a strong north wind howled all the time. One day in Arles, it was 13° C and the wind off the Rhône was biting.

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 – 7
Zeros – 16
Minuses – 8

The graph shows the percentage of plus days each May for the past 15 years (the line is the trend).

Gloomiest May in 16 years
Gloomiest May in 15 years

So far this year, we have recorded only 36 pluses. In 2012 over the same period, there were 61; 2011 had 82; and even 2010, which was pretty gloomy, had 54.


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. May is traditionally a rainy month and this was a May to the core. We had 123.5 mm of rain compared with the average for May of 91.7 mm. It rained on 14 days compared with the average of around 11.

Higher than average rainfall
Higher than average rainfall

So far this year, we’ve had 520.5 mm – more than half a metre. We would normally expect 402 mm, so we’ve had almost 30% more rain than usual.

Looking on the bright side, the aquifers must be nice and full. And the garden is burgeoning.

Aquilegia enjoying the rain
Aquilegia enjoying the rain

As usual, I’ve looked up a weather dicton (saying) about June:

Prépare autant de tonneaux qu’en juin tu compteras de beaux jours. Prepare as many wine casks as you count fine days in June.

For the sake of everyone’s sanity, let’s hope we’ll be rolling out plenty of barrels.

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. Yes, bloody depressing would be an understatement. Everyone’s gardens are seas of mud and where the tractors etc. have been through, the tracks have gouged out the earth. We’re lucky to have a well-drained (into the underground cistern) courtyard and sloping land, so haven’t been muddied up.
    Whatever the weather though, we have to soldier on and hope to adapt to climate change somehow. Thanks for the stats, despite the extremes.


    • It has been truly awful this year. At least this week we had a truce, with wall-to-wall sunshine and temperatures approaching those normal for the season. I even swam twice this week. But we received an eye-watering electricity bill, having had the heat pump on up to the end of last week. Hope the summer and autumn will be good to compensate.


  2. At last…it has changed, those ice saints have moved on. Our neighbours have been saying it has been the worst may for 30 years. It was certainly a pretty dreary English schools half term last week….our English grandchildren had a great time, but they were wrapped up in winter clothes for most of their week with us.J.


    • Up till this week, we have also been in winter clothes with the heating on and fires every night. However, my husband swam yesterday (still too cold for me!) so things are looking up.


  3. we are having 90+ in the usa….terrible. coming from a different direction, where
    summers were very much cooler, it is difficult to live with this. I would love to be
    in your area with the much cooler weather.


    • Perhaps we can swap for a couple of days! We wouldn’t mind a stint of 90 for a while but that is a bit hot, especially if it’s humid with it.


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