I know the sun doesn’t al­ways shine in France but the cold­est win­ter tem­per­a­ture was -41oc!

Found your dream place in the sun? What’s it like in the colder and qui­eter months, asks Ruth Wood

French Property News - - Contents -

Es­cape to a château by all means, but first find out what it will be like in the win­ter.

That’s the les­son es­tate agents Jerry and Caro­line Green al­ways try to pass on to French prop­erty hun­ters, hav­ing learned the hard way.

Back in the sum­mer of 2005, the cou­ple fell in love with a château while vis­it­ing friends in a Li­mousin vil­lage. “It was a stun­ning place,” re­mem­bers Jerry. “There was a lovely restau­rant and a lovely lake where the chil­dren swam. We went to see the lo­cal school and were very im­pressed. We made an of­fer, which was ac­cepted, and went home very pleased with our­selves. What could go wrong?”

Quite a lot as it turned out. By the time the cou­ple re­turned to sign the com­pro­mis de vente, it was win­ter. Limoges air­port was closed due to bad weather (a rare oc­cur­rence but it can hap­pen), the lo­cal restau­rant had closed for the sea­son and the cou­ple’s dream vil­lage felt more like north­ern Scot­land than south­ern France.

When they dou­ble-checked school ar­range­ments they were shocked to learn that lo­cal lanes were some­times im­pass­able in win­ter and so when their chil­dren went to se­condary school, they would be ex­pected to board with host fam­i­lies in the near­est town, re­turn­ing only at week­ends.

To cut a long story short, Jerry and Caro­line lit­er­ally got cold feet and pulled out of the sale. In­stead of es­cap­ing to the château, they ended up hav­ing a nar­row es­cape from it.

Even­tu­ally, they moved fur­ther south and west, set­tling in Duras, in Lot-et-garonne. There they run their es­tate agency Clé Rouge and live next door to a me­te­o­rol­o­gist who waxes lyri­cal about the mi­cro­cli­mate. Get­ting in the zone Broadly, it’s true that the fur­ther south you go in France the hot­ter it gets and the higher you go the cooler it gets. But if you want to over­win­ter there, you re­ally need to think about more than lat­i­tude and alti­tude. The term ‘mi­cro­cli­mate’ is a tad overused by es­tate agents but it’s true that the lay of the land and the prox­im­ity of the coast can in­flu­ence the weather.

Brit­tany alone has six dis­tinct cli­matic zones, with Brest in the west be­ing twice as rainy as Rennes in the east. Coastal Brit­tany gen­er­ally en­joys mild win­ters, the western in­te­rior around the Monts d’ar­rées has chilly and wet win­ters and the rest of the in­land area has

It rarely snows on the Cor­sica coast but this year was an ex­cep­tion

Win­ters in Dor­dogne tend to be drier than on the coast and in the UK

Jim Dun­combe’s son Hadley mak­ing the most of the moun­tain cli­mate in La Clusaz

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