South of France and the Mistral wind
We’ve been based here for many years and have at last realised the difference between the Côte d’Azur and the French Riviera (none, apart from the language… Old English vs Modern French!). However, there is a significant difference in weather conditions between the Côte d’Azur/Riviera and the rest of the South of France coastline. It’s the Mistral wind, a hellish and random monster that blasts down the Rhone Valley from the Northern Alps, striking in any season.
Peter Mayle, author of ‘A Year in Provence’, mentioned the temperature in Aix-en-Provence dropping by 10c in a matter of minutes. We have personally experienced enjoying a glass of wine under a parasol next to the Pope’s Palace in Avignon when the parasol suddenly, with no warning at all, took off like a rocket and smashed the wife off her perch. Could have been worse…
We experienced the Mistral over three days in Marseille, beautiful blue skies and warm weather but with wind blasting debris everywhere, including eyes, hair and camera equipment. Then another time in Saint Raphael, same again. Not at all comfortable! Holiday spoilt.
However, the coast from Mandelieu (just west of Cannes) to Menton (on the Italian Border) is protected from the Mistral by the Alpes-Maritimes range of mountains, while wealthy St Tropez is protected by a smaller range, Massif des Maures.
Voila! The Côte d’Azur/French Riviera misses out on blasted Mistral and has near perfect summer temperatures moderated by the Mediterranean Sea.