Le Mistral (winds) in Provence

Mar 8th, 2008, 01:33 PM
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Le Mistral (winds) in Provence

I just heard about Le Mistral and am somewhat concerned. Supposedly, it is a period of heavy and uncomfortable wind that can last for days in southern France. Does anybody know how bad this is and how often it happens. We are going to the Avignon area the second week of April. I can't seem to get information on how often it occurs in April. Rick Steve's wrote that it happens 100 days out of the year. That seems like a lot and a strong deterrent for visitors. Anybody know or experience this?
josie123 is offline  
Mar 8th, 2008, 01:43 PM
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Sure, it starts up every time I set foot in Provence. It's one of the reasons I cut most of my hair off about 10 years ago I wouldn't call it a strong deterrent for tourists, though - it's just wind. If tourists were avoiding Provence because of the mistral, surely you'd have heard about it. There are winds of that nature all over the world - the tramontana, the sirocco. No big deal.

And it doesn't have a schedule, so there's no way to know how often it will occur in April, or even if it will.

I would find something else to worry about.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 8th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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Hi J,

Read MFK fisher on how bad the Mistral can be.

A CONSIDERABLE TOWN by M.F.K. Fisher - Knopf

What you are worried about is a Winter Mistral wind, blowing out of the North across the frozen countryside.

In mid-April, it might make the nights cold, but won't ruin your visit.

In July and August, you want it to blow.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Mar 8th, 2008, 02:26 PM
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The wind that blows the ears off of donkeys? The wind that the 17th-century Madame de Sévigné described as "bitter, freezing and cutting"?

It comes down the Rhône from the north and yes, can last for several days at a time. I've been in Provence in April and May, September and October. There were a few days where it blew strong and cool, but nothing that dissuaded us from touring. From what I've read, the mistral feels worst during November to March.

Look on the bright side, though: the mistral is typically accompanied by clear skies and sunshine.

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 06:52 AM
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We were in Provence last March and the mistral blew. It was really amazing since the skies were totally clear and blue. It didn't stop us from touring at all. Since it was March it was colder than we had found in prior years. My mother had her sunglasses blown off her face while touring Le Baux years ago so watch out!
AGM_Cape_Cod is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 08:36 AM
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We spent two weeks northwest of Avignon last September. When I whined about being so cold my new French friend, an older gentleman, said: "Ah, that wind,, le mistral, it brings blue skies and luminosity to the air."
So true.
Treesa is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 09:03 AM
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Yes, the Mistral can blow in April and it can blow for days. Then you have brillant blue skies and excellent sight - no mist at all. But the wind is cold and gusty (white crestwaves on village ponds).

What helps, is jeans (no shorts), windbreaker and a sweater - even if it seems to be a sunny day.

The Mistral is one of the reasons why we European on this forum do not stop to advise to dress properly - no shorts. It is not about fashion, it is about temperature.
traveller1959 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 09:10 AM
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We, too, have experienced it and it is definitely not a deterrant. But then we live on the prairies where it is extremely windy (gusting up to 100 km/hour) at least 8 months of the year so are used to it. In fact it is calm so rarely that we literally count those days!

As others mention just dress appropriately - it truly is not bad at all. It certainly could be a lot worse!

Go and enjoy yourself!
travel2live2 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 09:15 AM
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The mistral blew 100+ km/h on our first day of a bike tour in Provence a couple of years ago. That makes riding a lot more work, I promise you. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world - we got to experiece one of the wonders of Provence that way! Visiting someplace when the weather is totally wacky (like everytime I go to Portland, OR, and it comes off sunny and pushing 100 degrees F), leaves you feeling like you sort of missed something essential about the place.
cageym is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 10:15 AM
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The Mistral the infamous wind of Provence,is a great nuisance not only for tourists byt for the local also.

My sister lives near Uzes and she told me that few days ago the winds was the strongest she ever seen it in years..she has been living in Provence over 40 years.

Usually, because of my allergy and sinus problems, I always get a sinus infections when the Mistral's blow.
As a matter of fact, it seems to me that I get one everytime I visit Provence..What a bummer, my sister and cousins live there.
kismetchimera is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 10:20 AM
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Today, the winds were blowing in excess of 160 km/h in northern France and southern England. No southern mistral required.
kerouac is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 10:39 AM
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cageym, I was going to ask about bike tours specifically, as I'm considering one for Sept/Oct of this year. Yikes! I hate mild headwinds, so I'm not sure how I'd do with that!
amyb is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 11:33 AM
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amyb - I live outside Chicago and so am accustomed to biking into headwinds all the time. The topography made the Mistral feel real different; it was like the wind was everywhere. And I struggled some with it on the climbs, but would I prefer that to rain? You betcha! Weather is weather - you can't change it, just have to be prepared to roll with it!
cageym is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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How about the Scirocco?

Hot and carrying Saharan sand...
TuckH is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 12:06 PM
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cagey, I'm north of Boston so other than an ocean breeze every once in a while, we don't get too much (and if we do, I just don't ride!). I loved my tour in Tuscany and was hoping to do the same in Provence but I am really a whiny cyclist.

But today, wind and rain both beat road salt, sand and snow! ;-)
amyb is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 12:09 PM
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I live in Provence... just south of St. Remy and a Mistral just finished two days ago. With gusts of 140 -150 kmph it was one of the strongest we've had in a long time. SO far this year, we haven't had much Mistral - for which everyone around here has been pretty thankful.

The one good thing about it is that while it's blowing there's no rain (although we need that here). I wouldn't let it ruin your vacation - around Avignon it usually doesn't get too bad. I don't know of anyone who's been deterred from coming because of it.

PBProvence is offline  

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