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
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