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Climate and Weather

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Climate and Weather

The subtropical climate in Provence is characterised by dry summers and mild winters. With an average of 2800-3000 hours of sun and less than 80 days of precipitation per year, Provence is a popular holiday destination. Even in winter, some places on the coast can have up to 150 hours of sunshine per month.

Thanks to warm sea currents, winters on the coast are generally quite mild and sunny. Inland, the winters are somewhat colder and the factor of altitude moderates the temperature there in the summer. The mountains in the northeast experience harsh winters. There is often a lot of snow there as well and it is sometimes possible to ski.

Most precipitation falls in spring and autumn, with the best month being November, when cloudbursts can cause more than 100 mm of rain to fall per hour! The Crau, the Camargue and the Étang de Berre are characterised by less than 500 mm of precipitation per year. Mont Ventoux and the Vaucluse plateaus receive more than 800 mm per year.

In summer, precipitation is less than 70 mm and daytime temperatures fluctuate around 30°C, with maximums of 35°C. This period of high temperatures lasts a long time: from May to October, the maximum daytime temperatures are above 20 °C. However, the heat is rarely oppressive due to the dry air and the protection from moist depressions by the Massif Central. Occasionally, Provence is shaken by huge storms in summer.

Provence is the home of the mistral (mistrau=the master, also called mangio fango=mud eater), a strong, dry north-westerly wind that, especially in the north-west, can blow 150-180 days a year and reach speeds of 180-200 km per hour. The mistral blows most frequently in the months of February, March and April and much less frequently in July and August. In this period, however, the chance of forest fires is rather high due to the sometimes days-long mistral.

The mistral is caused by differences in air pressure between the low pressure area over the Gulf of Genoa and high pressure areas in the north of the Massif Central. In the summer, the mistral brings some refreshment, but in the winter it brings cold and frost and can cause the temperature to drop by 10°C in a few hours. The mistral can blow for days on end. The Sainte-Baume massif protects the eastern part of Provence from the mistral.

About 30 other, often local, winds blow in Provence, including the "marin" from the south-east accompanied by rain and fog, and the south-western "labech", which often brings thunderstorms.

Marseille climate data

highest temp.temp.seawaterhours sun p/day


Blisse, M. / Provence

Eck, N. van / Provence, Côte d’Azur

Guérin, R. / Provence
Van Reemst

Jardinaud, M. / Provence


Williams, R. / Provence & Côte d’Azur
Van Reemst

Zwijnenburg, H. / Provence, Côte d’Azur

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
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