Sundial, Place des Precheurs, Aix en ProvenceIt's no accident that Aix en Provence is full of sundials. The city has over 300 days of sunshine a year and, in July, temperatures can quite easily reach 30 degrees Celsius or 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

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This is a guide to the city's year-round climate. Scroll down the page to view the current four-day weather forecast for Aix en Provence. Pictured top left: 1825 sundial on the place des Prêcheurs.

As with Marseille, Aix enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate: you are reliably assured of hot weather in summer, which is the best time to visit the area if you're a serious sun-worshipper. In winter the temperature rarely falls below freezing.

However, compared to its rival on the coast, Aix is slightly more temperate. It's marginally warmer in winter, and the overall rainfall is significantly higher - though still low by most standards.

Come in the spring for milder weather than you'll find in Northern Europe, while in the autumn / fall there can be marvellous Indian summers and pleasant days well into November. In the shoulder season, particularly the autumn, thunderstorms and heavy, sometimes monsoon-like rain can sweep the area.

The chart, below, indicates the days when it rains, not the centimetres of rainfall, because, rather than drizzling over a period of days or weeks, much of the month's rain can sometimes pour down in one or two hours.

However, the major topic when locals talk about the weather is always the Mistral, a fierce, cold, dry wind from the north or north-west which roars down the Rhône Valley towards the coast.

It can reach speeds of over 90 km / 56 miles an hour, can last for days and is usually, though not always, accompanied by bright blue skies and glorious sunshine.

Average annual temperatures in Aix en ProvenceBut it is guaranteed to make temperatures plummet - and the wind chill factor makes it feel even colder.

The Mistral (nothing to do with the poet Frédéric Mistral: the name means "masterly" in the provençal language) can blow up at any time of year.

In winter it's bitter. In summer it's a rarer occurrence and comes as a welcome relief from the heat, but also fans the forest fires that can rage across the region in periods of drought.

Average annual rainfall days in Aix en ProvenceIt's also the reason why houses in Provence (and further west, in the Camargue) are often built with all their windows facing south and a blind wall to the windward side.

Statistics on the prevalence of the Mistral are inconclusive. It appears that the numbers of days it blows can vary very widely from year to year, but one meteorological study carried out over 25 years found that the annual average was 87 days.

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