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France - how far south do we have to go for reliable sunshine?

(12 Posts)
WillowinGloves Tue 16-Apr-13 22:27:47

Hi - very grateful for advice here from MNers who know France. After the dreadful summer of 2012 and the long winter, I am absolutely craving some sun. I want one of those holidays where you can get up and put on summer clothes every day and the kids, who are teens, can swim (pool, river, sea, wherever!) and cycle. We also like places to visit - towns, historic sites etc. But we are on a small budget.
We also have dietary issues so we self-cater and have to be near a reasonable sized supermarket. I can't cope with camping as I already spend my holiday cooking and shopping and so I need four walls and H&C! I found somewhere lovely and just about affordable in the Dordogne/Lot region (after another thread here!) which had all we wanted but when we factored in ferry/drive it went over budget.
So if we have to stay further north for a shorter and cheaper journey, where should we go to get that much-needed sunshine and warmth? (We did Brittany once, stayed centrally as the coast was too expensive, and had awful weather so are wary of that!)
Please advise and save our summer holiday!

purple15 Wed 17-Apr-13 10:23:15

Hi, We were in the same position as you several years ago. After doing Cornwall for years and years, we decided to try France for the Weather.

First, we tried Brittany like yourselves, but the weather was very similar to Cornwall, then we tried the Vendee, which was slightly better, then we tried Samaur in the Loire Valley which was warm, but very much inland. The following year we tried the Dordoign, it was red hot. It was on the river and had a lovely pool, but again it is inland. So the following year we tried the Loire Valley again. It was overcast for a couple of days and then very much swimsuit weather.

Due to illness we just fit a short break in, at Cornwall after having a break for several years. It was lovely being beside the sea, it felt more like a holiday.

This year we are having a complete change and doing Majorca, which is major for my husband as he 'hates' the whole thing about flying. We have our own caravan so once everything about going to France is added up, it is expensive. Also, we went to the Supermarket, everyday to get a packed lunch (in France). Looking back this is far from a cheap option.

Iseeall Wed 17-Apr-13 10:31:45

For guarenteed sun in august you need the 'real' south of france, think St Tropez to Monaco .
With the Dordogne and Basque coast, you could get some not so sunny days/rain (think england)
Although all the regions mentioned are fabulous and I would go to any of them for my hols,and have been, weather experience is first hand knowledge!

bigTillyMint Wed 17-Apr-13 10:34:41

I agree, the Loire is pretty reliable, as is Charente Maritime (below La Rochelle) if you don't want to go as far as the real south!

Heinz55 Wed 17-Apr-13 10:38:17

Cote d'azur I think.

frenchfancy Wed 17-Apr-13 19:54:23

The weather changes as you get south of the Loire so anywhere noth of that you are not going to get that much better than Britain.

Comparisons from one year to the next are always difficult as the weather isn't stable, you could have a great week even in Yorkshire.

What is true is that whilst the weather generally gets hotter as you get further south, in terms of amount of sunshine the area imediately (think 40km) around la Rochelle has a micro climate giving it the same number os hours of sunshine as the cote d'Azur. That covers the south of the Vendee and the north of the Charante Maritime, inclluding the il de ré. Drive time is less than the Dordogne at 6.5 hours from Calais or 3 hours from St Malo.

Be careful of anywhere in the Deux Sevres or Vienne claiming to be inside the microclimate, they are not. I used to have a link to a map showing the climate, i'll see if I can find it.

frenchfancy Wed 17-Apr-13 20:04:33

I found one,

it is on a site for solar panels in French, but if you scroll down on the right had side you can see the red section round La Rochelle, with more than 2250 hours of sunshine per year (compared with an average of 1340 hours for the UK, though Dorest and Kent get around 1750 hours apparently).

bigTillyMint Wed 17-Apr-13 21:14:40

frenchfancy, that's exactly the area that we have been camping in for several years! Always found the weather to be hot and sunny theresmile

ivykaty44 Wed 17-Apr-13 21:23:08

La Rochelle has the most sunshine days of any where in france and that includes the far south

but its not cheap by a long stretch, so your spending money may go well over budget.

St Malo ferries are not cheap you may be better looking at cherbourg which would add another hour and a half on to the drive time - but if you shop around you can get some better deals on the ferry than going to st malo that will make the hour and a half drive more than worth while

AvrilPoisson Wed 17-Apr-13 21:26:07

I would say at least Biarritz!

Every time we, or friends/family have been to Loire, it has been torrential!

Dordogne was scorching, though that was August. Haven't been to the Vendee.

AuntLucyInPeru Wed 17-Apr-13 21:35:08

We use 'South of la Rochelle' as our barometer on this.

YoungJoseph Wed 17-Apr-13 21:42:35

I was trying to work out the same thing as you last week but gave up.

Unless you spend ££ flying or hours travelling then you can't guarantee sunshine. If you spend less time or money then the chances of sun go down so I've almost decided that it's not worth the time / money commitment.

Your other options are to go out of school holidays when flights / accommodation are cheaper or try something really last minute (not sure if this option works in school holidays though).

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