French Summer Markets and Weather in SW France July 2014


Villefranche-de-Rouergue market
Villefranche-de-Rouergue market

French markets come into their own at this time of year. The difference between summer and winter couldn’t be more marked. In the winter, a few brave souls stamp their feet and try to stop their produce freezing while the locals hurry to get their shopping done. In summer, the number of stalls increases several-fold along with the holidaymakers, and finding a parking space is difficult.

This year, however, we noticed a distinct decrease in the number of people at the markets in Caylus (Tuesday and Saturday) during July. Yesterday, it was more like a normal August market – but this will last only until about the 15th August, when the hordes start to head for home.

It would help, of course, if the weather behaved as if it were summer. Alas, this year, it has been pretty dire in July. More of that below. However, each time we have gone to the big market at Villefranche-de-Rouergue, it has been glorious weather, even a bit too hot. The market place is overshadowed by the massive Collégiale (cathedral) but there is little shade.

I’m very fond of this market, although we don’t go that often, partly because it’s almost impossible to park anywhere near it. Local fruit and veg producers rub shoulders with purveyors of (vrai) Laguiole knives, cheesemongers, butchers and vendors of farçous Aveyronnais. The latter are a kind of small, thick pancake with herbs and minced meat, or sometimes just spinach. I’ll provide a recipe sometime – they are delicious.

Good practice or sharp practice?

At Villefranche, I bought some tomatoes from a local grower and decided to buy a couple of courgettes as well. I asked him how much they were.

Rien, Madame!” He threw them in for nothing.

The same day, I wanted a bunch of parsley from another stall. Here, again, they gave it to me free, even though I bought nothing else from them.

At another market, alas, they took the opposing stance. I bought something from a large stall run by a man brimming with false bonhomie. He deliberately overcharged me, obviously thinking I was an affluent British tourist whom he would never see again. Wrong on all counts, except that I’m British. I will never buy from him again.

Weather July 2014 

Now for the weather. This has been the worst July in our 17 years here. It was not particularly cold most of the time, but it was damp and unsettled. One nice day was invariably followed by several bad ones.

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 July, there were:

Pluses – 14
Zeros – 11
Minuses – 6

The graph shows the percentage of plus days each July for the past 17 years (the line is the trend). The variance between good and bad months of July has increased markedly.

Weather July 2014 cf previous years
Weather July 2014 cf previous years


Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. This July we had 83.5 mm of rain compared with the average of 48.5. Also, it rained on 13 days compared with an average of 7 – so twice as often. Interestingly, the rainfall in July 2013 was almost exactly the same and yet it was one of the best months of July in 17 years. The answer is probably that it rained on only 5 days then (no doubt because of thunder storms).

So far this year we have had 568 mm of rain, about 12% above the average of 508.5 mm. The upside is that the countryside is very green this year; by now it’s often brown and parched. The downside is that we have to continue to mow the lawn.

Rainfall 2014 to date
Rainfall 2014 to date

To finish, I must show you again the photo of a swallowtail butterfly on our buddleia. I was rather pleased with it but I had to hang around for about 10 minutes to get it. 

Beautiful swallowtail on our buddleia. I had to wait 10 minutes for this shot.
Beautiful swallowtail on our buddleia. I had to wait 10 minutes for this shot.

You might also like:

Villefranche-de-Rouergue Market
French Markets
French Winter Market
Market Halls in Southwest France

Copyright © 2014 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved



  1. We have outdoor farmer’s markets in summer but nothing compared to the French summer markets. They usually move indoors during the winter. And that picture of that butterfly is sublime!


    • Sometimes I think our local market SHOULD move indoors in the winter when it’s really cold! I was rather proud of the butterfly picture – but I had to wait a long time for it. They move around so much.


  2. Our market at Lannemezan is very good although the town itself is less than attractive! Otherwise we have a small one at Castelnau Magnoac which attracts a few extra stalls in summer but not that many. Enough for local needs and holiday-makers. We tend to have more rainfall here being near the mountains – thunderstorms mainly in the summer – so we’re green most of the year round. Lovely visually and for the plants but not so great it you’ve taken on a big lawn! Thanks for the stats – depressing really.


    • I don’t envy you your extra rainfall – it’s bad enough here, especially today. It’s pouring. Not how August should be. Forecast to improve, though.


I'd love to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.