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Sunny, Not Warm in the South of France

January 5th, 2017 · No Comments · France, Languedoc

We expect some chilly weather here, given that we are further north than 90 percent of the continental U.S.

But this batch of weather has been the coldest we have seen in more than a year in the south of France.

Tonight? A low of 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, below freezing.

Tomorrow night? A forecast low of 28. Perhaps the coldest night I will experience since the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, which at no time in three weeks was the temperature above 26F.

Clearly, it can get cold, this close to the Mediterranean Sea.

Most of France has been cold for a week. Air from the “arctique” is blowing south from Scandinavia and across France.

The highs are not very high — in the 40s. But it is the return of the wind that makes things chilly, even to the locals.

A wind of about 15 mph, coming from the north, deeply chilled the final miles of my walk to the nearby “big” town of Pezenas.

It was fine going there … it was not fine coming back, walking into that north wind while climbing up to the plateau. It was a two-sweatshirt day, at the least. I had one.

The locals throw some logs onto the fireplace, or into the wood-burning stove, and get pretty toasty.

Luckily, where we live is thoroughly shielded from cold winds from the north, and we can sit on the balcony in the middle of the day and not feel the slightest stirring in the air — while getting direct and fairly intense sunlight.

Yes, at least it is sunny … but the French are starting to get worried about the lack of rain over nearly the whole of the country.

The cold is below normal, and talked about, but the lack of rain/snow pretty much from Brittany in the northwest to the Cote d’Azur in the southeast … apparently is becoming of historic interest.

The month of December was one of the driest in up to 100 years, depending on location, and the snow pack in the Alps is a rumor.

Unlike, say, semi-arid Southern California, where most run-off water is captured for later consumption, France (even in the drier south) largely depends on diverting river water or tapping wells. (The area around our little town has dozens of wells.)

The depletion of the ground water is a bit alarming — even if vintners eventually talk about how “difficult conditions” often lead to very fine wine.

So, we have turned on the one radiator in the living room, and it is running nearly nonstop now. I am still getting out and around, thanks to a scarf and a fleece hat.

Inside, I have been pulling up the hood of my hoodie. Meanwhile, we are ready to make a trade for a little less cold and quite a bit more rain. At least for a couple of days, here and there.



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