The Climate in Marseille

The sun card from the Tarot de MarseilleMarseille has a typical Mediterranean climate: you are reliably assured of hot weather in summer, while in winter the temperature rarely falls below freezing. logoClick here to book a hotel in Marseille

This is a guide to the city's year-round climate. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to view the current five-day weather forecast for Marseille.

Marseille enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year, and in July temperatures peak, easily reaching 30 degrees Celsius / 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the best time to visit the area if you're a serious sun-worshipper - though it's certainly one to avoid if you don't like the heat.

Come in the spring for milder weather than you'll find in Northern Europe, while in autumn / fall there can be marvellous Indian summers and warm days well into November.

Rainfall is low to non-existent in July and August. On the other hand, in spring and, particularly, autumn, thunderstorms and heavy, sometimes monsoon-like rain sweep the region.

Monthly temperature chart for MarseilleThe second chart below indicates the days when it rains, not the centimetres of rainfall. Bear it in mind that, 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 river 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. But it is guaranteed to make temperatures plummet and the wind chill factor makes it feel even colder..

Chart of average rain days in MarseilleIn winter it's bitter. In summer it's a rarer occurrence and comes as a welcome relief from the heat - though it also fans the forest fires that can rage across the region in periods of drought.

It's also the reason why houses in Provence (and especially in the Camargue) are often built with all their windows facing south and a blind wall to the windward side.

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.

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.

Very occasionally Marseille can experience extreme weather conditions - intempéries, as the French call them - such as the snow which briefly blanketed the city in January 2009 and February 2012.

But, despite being unaccustomed to seeing the white stuff on the Old Port, the Marseillais lost no time in digging out skis and snowboards to make the very most of it.




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