The weather in the last couple of years in France has been very tricky.
It used to be that I’d know that in the summer I’d be wearing T Shirts and shorts all day. I’d go to the beach where it would be hot and sunny and eat outside at night enjoying pavement style dining, luxuriating under a blue sky – and that is in the far north of France which the southerners call the North Pole as we rarely achieve the temperatures that they see!
Last year though was horrid, a damp and none too warm summer that left us all craving a holiday somewhere where the sun would come out and stay for longer than a day or two.
This year has been odd too – a prolonged winter led to a late spring and everyone in the village is moaning about the lateness of the seeds to germinate, plants to grow and the excessive weeds that have come up. Gooseberry bushes here didn’t blossom – it was too cold so we have no fruit on them. Later fruiting trees and bushes fared better as they blossomed late and missed the frost. But on the whole, for gardeners in my village in the north of France it is already a bad year. It hasn’t been much better in the south, the Cannes Film Festival was wet and my southern friends have been moaning about the cold and the rain.
However in the last few days we’ve had far better weather in the north than they’ve had in the south where terrible storms have hit. There have been floods as many inches of rain have fallen and hail stones – in some places the size of a chicken’s egg. Cities and towns have been plunged into darkness – including Paris (see the photo above taken morning 17 June 2013) where it felt like midnight before mid day as no light got through the heavy cloud cover. Flights into and out of Paris were affected and electrical storm warnings issued as the weather affected the area from Paris right down to the Pyrénées.
Here though in the “North Pole” we are enjoying warm temperatures and sunshine – though I am not smug, I am sure our turn will come.
Yesterday morning I was in Lille, the Paris of the north. It is a beautiful city and I spent the morning shopping and wandering round Vieux Lille (the old part of the city), admiring the fantastic architecture and basking in the warm sunny morning. Paris is only an hour on the train from Lille but the two cities couldn’t have been more different yesterday in terms of the weather.
At the weekend I had dinner on the coast at Dunkerque on the furthest tip of northern France, a few miles from the Belgian border. Rarely considered a place where you’d enjoy southern France style living, it was on this occasion more akin to the Mediterranean way of life than I ever thought possible. The sky was a deep dark blue, the sun shone until late into the night, the 15km long beach was golden and the sea was a beautiful blue with light frothy waves. The restaurants along the seaside resort of Malo Les Bains in Dunkerque were packed as tables and chairs outside filled rapidly as we all enjoyed an al fresco dinner in the sun.
I said to one of my friends “the north is like the south – but better” and we drank to that!