May in France is a month when you can’t move for public holidays. There’s one a week: two historical and two religious. Then the next one isn’t until 14th July, la fête nationale. We were talking about it at our yoga class today (I am the only non-French participant) and everyone agreed that it gets a bit much this month.
1st May is la fête du travail, when, ironically nobody works. This year it fell on a Friday, making a long weekend. It’s hotly pursued by 8th May which commemorates Victory in Europe in 1945 – also on a Friday this year, making another long weekend.
Next week, Ascension falls on Thursday 14th May, making an even longer weekend, when people faire le pont (make the bridge) and take Friday off as well. Finally, Whit Monday (le lundi de Pentecôte) on 25th May makes the fourth long weekend this month.
Not that I object to public holidays per se. It’s just that they could be spread out a bit more over the year. However, in France the jour férié is nearly always taken on the date on which it falls, so if it happens to be a Saturday or a Sunday, it’s bad luck.
Weather for April
True to form, the weather also follows the calendar closely and makes sure that holidays in May are rainy. Last Friday, 1st May, it bucketed down, after an unsettled week.
We have been operating our subjective weather assessment for 17 years. 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 April, there were:
Pluses – 18
Zeros – 8
Minuses – 4
Despite torrential rain and thunderstorms in the last week of April, it was actually one of the better ones. The chart below shows the percentage of plus days each April for the past 17 years (the line is the trend). We have had three better Aprils and one the same. And the trend is upwards.
We have been collecting rainfall stats since August 2004. This April we had 111 mm of rain, compared with the average of 92.3 mm. But it rained on fewer days than normal: eight compared to around 11. This is because when it did rain, it rained with a vengeance.
So we’re now above the average rainfall for the year to date: 335.5 mm compared to the average of 315.3 mm, i.e. 6.4% higher.
April is also the last month in which we can expect any frost, but there was none this year. Overall, we had 41 frost nights over the winter.
Finally, I can announce that the cuckoo did arrive here, but only on 12th April, which is the latest ever. Then it shut up for a couple of weeks until starting off again. All the other migratory birds – hoopoes, swallows, nightingales and golden orioles – have arrived within the normal range.
What would I do without the SF (Statistics Freak), who collects all this information?
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