Weather for Walks: October 2014 Weather in SW France

 

Autumn colours in the Viaur Valley

Autumn colours in the Viaur Valley

We took advantage of the continuing spell of glorious weather last weekend to do one of our favourite walks, along part of the Viaur Valley. I mentioned this in my previous post. It’s a walk that’s best done on a fine autumn day. The colours are magnificent, chestnuts litter the ground and there’s hardly anyone else around. The only sound is the river rushing over the rocks not far from the path. We don’t get there often enough (it’s a 45-minute drive). The last time was in autumn 2011.

 

River Viaur rushing over the rocks

River Viaur rushing over the rocks

The Roc del Gorp - a rocky outcrop by the River Viaur, much favoured by climbers

The Roc del Gorp – a rocky outcrop by the River Viaur, much favoured by climbers

Lagarde Viaur, remnants of a former township

The village of Lagarde Viaur with the fortified church on the left

The village of Lagarde Viaur with the fortified church on the left

Apart from the lovely countryside, there’s historical interest, too. The walk passes through the village of Lagarde Viaur, stationed high up above the valley, formerly standing sentinel over the river crossing. Since our previous visit, the commune had put up helpful historical plaques around the village, so we found out rather more about it.

Lagarde Viaur had its share of turbulent history during the Albigensian Crusades and was much more densely populated at one time. Up until the 1960s, we learned, the villagers grew fruit that they sold not only in regional markets but also to the UK. And chestnuts were once a staple crop, from which people made flour, as well as being exported throughout France.

Tower of the fortified church at Lagarde Viaur

Tower of the fortified church at Lagarde Viaur

Now the village is almost a ghost town. Some of the houses are dilapidated but sport hopeful “à vendre” signs. At least one of the more imposing buildings, with impressive colombage (timber facings), is being restored. The SF and I sat on benches by the fortified church at the top of the village, munching our sandwiches, enjoying the view and musing on the decline of a once-important township.

On Sunday (2nd November), we were in shorts and T-shirts. Today, the weather has reverted to a more seasonable temperature and the rain has returned after a long gap.

Weather assessment for October

A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In October, there were:

Pluses – 25
Zeros – 4
Minuses – 2

The graph shows the percentage of plus days each October for the past 17 years (the line is the trend). This is the best October over that period by some margin.

Proportion of plus days each October for 17 years

Proportion of plus days each October for 17 years

This year the weather has gone from the ridiculous in July and August to the sublime in September and October. We frequently get a warm and glowing Indian summer, but this has been the best ever.

Rainfall

This is reflected in the rainfall. Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. In October we had only 34 mm of rain, about half the average we would expect (70.5mm). It rained only on 4 days, again about half the average of 8.5 days.

The overall rainfall for the year to date is still above the average, though, thanks to a wet winter and spring. We’ve had 750.5 mm to date, 7% above the 701.5 mm we would normally expect.

Rainfall 2014 to date

Rainfall 2014 to date

 

We’ve heard rumours that the winter might be a tough one. Apparently, the climatic conditions this year have exactly mirrored those of 1985, when the temperatures dipped to minus 25°C. So some farmers are saying that this is in store for us this winter. I sincerely hope they’re wrong. Our house would be uninhabitable.

Let’s see what my trusty dictons (sayings) source has to say:

Octobre ensoleillé, décembre emmitouflé [Sunny October, December all muffled up].

Let’s remain optimistic (while making sure the gas tank is filled up, the wood is stacked and the woolly pullies are to hand).

Spindleberry in the Viaur Valley - very much in evidence by the riverside

Spindleberry in the Viaur Valley – very much in evidence by the riverside

You might also like:

Walking the Viaur Valley
Watery Walk – la Vallée de la Bonnette
Awesome Auvergne

Copyright © 2014 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

 

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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8 Responses to Weather for Walks: October 2014 Weather in SW France

  1. Pingback: 5 More Hidden Gems in Southwest France | Life on La Lune

  2. Anita says:

    The Viaur Valley is spectacular – one of our favourite spots! I hope those weather warnings are wrong!

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    • nessafrance says:

      It is lovely down there, isn’t it? We tend always to do the same walk and really ought to branch out, since we have a whole book of walks just around the Viaur.

      Like

  3. MarinaSofia says:

    We’ve been having the most glorious September/October over here in Haute Savoie/Ain too, after a rainy and miserable summer. Since Monday the rain hasn’t stopped, though. So curious to see what the winter has in store for us! Winter tyres are coming on next week in my case.

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    • nessafrance says:

      This Indian summer seems to have been pretty generalised in France – except of course in the SE, where they have had terrible floods several times. We know people who were visiting over there and had to spend the night in a salle des fêtes. Yes, I can imagine you might need winter tyres soon. The forecast is for snow at low altitudes. Mind you, we could do with snow tyres here some winters.

      Like

  4. Steph P says:

    Reblogged this on Crooked Cat's Cradle.

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  5. Osyth says:

    The walk sounds fabulous and is duly added to the list! Weather warnings are echoed by the bakers wife here who clearly missed her vocation as a weather girl!

    Like

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