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Provence and the Cote d'Azur

Provence and the Cote d'Azur

Provence and the Cote d'Azur


Provence has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by a hot, dry summer period, very little rain (less than 60 rainy days) and therefore lots of sunshine.

Temperatures reach as high as 35°C in the summer, though 30°C is more common. In the winter, the climate is mild along the coastline and temperatures rarely dip below 10°C. However, the villages of the arrière-pays (inland countryside) are often cooler in the winter, especially those on exposed areas around the Vaucluse and Luberon hills. April and October tend to be the wettest months, with short, heavy outbursts of rain as well as lighter showers lasting a few days.

Conditions are ideal in late May and throughout June, when temperatures of around 26°C and abundant sunshine predominate. Plants, flowers and fruit trees are in full bloom and the roads are generally clear of vacationers. September is pleasant, with a favorable climate. The sea water is still warm at this time for those holidaying by the coast. In contrast, July and August are the high tourist season in Provence. Europeans are on vacation at this time and it is necessary to reserve well in advance for accommodation. Some of the more popular towns are overcrowded and getting around by car takes more time and patience.

The famous mistral wind hits Provence throughout the year. This ferocious wind lasts for a day or even days at a time, and can blow up to 100km/h (62mi/h).

Côte d’Azur

Côte d’Azur also has a climate characterized by a period of summer drought, few rainy days throughout the year (less than 120), and consequently, a great deal of sunshine. As you move away from the coast and towards higher elevations, climatic conditions gradually change as is evidenced by temperatures (frost) and precipitation (rain cycles and levels). Thus, the back country has a more mountainous climate with Mediterranean nuances. Indeed, it can often be sunny on the coast, yet cloudy, foggy and rainy only a dozen kilometres away.

Temperatures rarely exceed 30°C in summer. In winter, the climate is mild on the coast and temperatures rarely plummet below 10°C. On the other hand, the temperature in the back country is sometimes lower on account of the altitude. Then again, this means you can enjoy skiing only an hour from the sea, on mountains that reach up to 3,000m (9,843ft).

In April and October, the region is often subject to heavy rains that can last several days.

The mistral, the famous Provence wind, generally affects the part of the Côte d’Azur west of Fréjus. This wind can gust to 100km/h (62mi/h). Cannes, which lies east of Fréjus, suffers its last effects, with about thirty days of unflagging winds every year.

In summer, the heat is never unbearable on the Côte d’Azur, as steady ocean breezes temper the climate. Moreover, in winter, certain places such as Monaco are sheltered by the rocks surrounding them.

The Côte d’Azur is a very popular spot in July and August, when most Europeans are on holiday. June and September are even more pleasant, however: temperatures are lower and there are fewer people. September is also a must for swimming buffs, as the sea is still warm.

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