12 January 2008

Après la pluie, le soleil

As Sam and Claudia pointed out, the amount of rainfall an area gets isn't the whole answer. It's what I said about Rouen, too — it doesn't rain in excessive amounts there, it just rains lightly much of the time.

Do you think weather like this counts as sunny or cloudy?

So another climate measure the experts keep track of is annual hours of sunshine. It turns out that some of the rainiest cities are also some of the sunniest: Bordeaux, Montpellier, La Rochelle, Grenoble.

Here's a list from sunniest to dreariest, in hours of sunshine (heures d'ensoleillement) per year:
Nice ......... 2694
Montpellier .. 2687
Perpignan .... 2506
La Rochelle .. 2250
Bordeaux ..... 2084
Toulouse ..... 2047
Grenoble ..... 2031
Lyon ......... 1976
Limoges ...... 1974
Nantes ....... 1956
Clermont ..... 1907

Besançon ..... 1872

Rennes ....... 1851
Tours ........ 1845
Dijon ........ 1831

Orléans ...... 1805

Paris ........ 1797

Caen ......... 1764
Brest ........ 1749
Reims ........ 1729

Romorantin ... 1716

Rouen ........ 1687

Metz ......... 1638

Strasbourg ... 1637

Lille ........ 1600
The southwest is definitely the land of sunshine: draw a line from Montpellier to La Rochelle and the cities south of it are the sunniest ones in France. And the northeast is the least sunny: Rouen, Metz, Strasbourg, and Lille win the cloudiest prize.

Tours (14th) is sunnier than Paris (17th), but Romorantin (21st) is drearier. So Saint-Aignan must be about tied with Paris, since we are halfway between Tours and Romo.

Or maybe Saint-Aignan has its own climate. There certainly are micro-climates in all countries and regions. Actually, La Renaudière, the hamlet we live in, has its own climate compared to the area down by the banks of the Cher River, one kilometer distant.

In 2003 — five years ago already — I was at La Renaudière one day at the beginning of February. While I poked around in this house we had decided to buy, measuring rooms to see if our San Francisco furniture would fit and thinking of all the possibilities, I had left the shutters closed. In one room it was too dark, though, so I opened up. It had started snowing!

Snow at La Renaudière, February 2003

In just a few minutes, a good dusting of light snow had covered the ground. I thought, well, I'd better get going before the roads become impassable, especially the little lane that leads out of La Renaudière down a steep hill back to the main road along the river. I slipped and slid down the hill in a little Peugeot 205, and when I got to the bottom of the hill there was no snow at all. It was raining.

Often there is fog along the river but not up here on the edge of the vineyard. You can see the fog shrouding the river valley when you're out walking the dog in the morning. And I'm sure we get a lot more wind than spots down along the river, which are protected by the higher terrain all around them.

Meanwhile, we now keep our own rainfall statistics.

Average annual rainfall in Tours: 684 mm
Average annual rainfall in Romo: 733 mm

Total rainfall at La Renaudière:
2005 — 449 mm
2006 — 591 mm
2007 — 587 mm

In 2005, we were in drought conditions — that's clear. But it's funny about 2006, which seemed like a basically dry, sunny year, and 2007, which was a gray, rainy, wash-out of a year. So much for rainfall statistics.


  1. Hi Betty, I didn't find any climate data for Rodez on the site I referenced. But then I didn't find any for Marseille either. The sunniest town in France is Toulon, with 2899 annual hours of sunshine. Since Marseille is right next to Toulon, it must be similarly sunny.

    Maybe there's some data for Rodez on a different site. Météo France, maybe.

    Biarritz is up there with 1935 hours of sunshine, between Nantes and Clermont-Ferrand.

  2. Your last line says it all, Ken! I'm always skeptical about the official weather predictions and statistics. But I always consulted my old aunt who knew it in her bones...
    Alas, I'm ageing now without her gift!

  3. Ken- Exactly what happened to us in the Yorkshire Dales. We had asked the builder to give us a quote and the snow started falling. Saucer sized flakes! We wanted to make a run for it and he, as a local, wanted to keep us talking for hours!! Luckily, and I guess it is the same with you, the farmers keep the roads clear with their vehicles! Only a few weeks ago we were snowed in up there at the beginning of December but by next day it had become passable. Today is gloriously sunny back home in Sussex and the first snowdrops are out. Spring is on the way! Please check out Lakeland.co.uk for their car seat covers and give our love to Callie from our Scottie who hates the car as well!! Angela

  4. What synchrony of thought...well, sort of. I was just writing about the number of sunny days in Boulder and Nice, but with regards to drying laundry! Amazing how variable the weather is across a country the size of France, isn't it?

    But then, it's pretty different just 100 miles from here too...given the change in altitude.

    Meilleurs voeux!!

  5. I enjoyed reading your weather comments, rain comes in different forms (heavy storms, light crachin...) and impacts greatly on measuring volumes tropical areas get more rain volume annually than London, but you don't have the same feeling of living in a gray, rainy city day after day for months. Maintenant, j'ai envie de lire un autre de vos sujets. yendi


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