Bordeaux Weather Overview:
Bordeaux’s weather is not so much important for the tourists but for the resident vines that make this part of France, the world’s elite wine producing region. Concerns are growing over the rise in average annual temperatures, in line with increases in the average annual global temperatures for it is likely to change the nature of the wines. Temperatures are moderated by the Bay of Biscay, lowering the maximums in summer and keeping the city and region mild in the winter. Despite being close to the Mediterranean, it’s not got a Mediterranean climate classification because of high summer rainfall and instead is said to be oceanic.
All Time Highs and Lows:
The highest temperature recorded was 41.9C, equal to 107.4f in August in the hot summer of 2003. The lowest temperature recorded in Bordeaux was in the winter of 1912 when the mercury dropped to a low of -16.4C, only 2.5f. This temperature was seen to be a freak as the temperatures are rarely cold enough for snow but frosts occur regularly, less so in recent years.
Bordeaux has three major influences on its weather; the main being the Bay of Biscay. Whilst continental Europe should have a heating effect on the temperature in summer and the reverse in winter, its effect is part cancelled out by the prevailing westerly winds of the Atlantic passing over the Bay. The temperature of the Bay changes though a narrow band during the year and warm seas and westerly winds bring much of the rain that characterises the summer climate. The Mediterranean, to the south should have an influence but again, wind directions cancel out any effect.
Month by Month:
January: January isn’t the worst month by any means. Whilst it has the lowest average temperatures and holds the record for the lowest temperature recorded, it has less rain than the autumn months and significantly more sunshine than in November and December. Days are often crisp and clear and it’s a nice time to wander the vineyards and see the farmers in the early morning mists, preparing the vines for the coming spring.
February: There’s a hint of spring as average temperatures rise. Rainfall is less and there are fewer wet days. The highest temperature recorded in February nearly touched 80f so you can see that good weather is a possibility. Frosts are still common at night but if you’re lucky you may see the first signs of spring in the swelling buds.
March: March is typically a dry month with the fourth lowest rainfall figures although it can be spread out over a number of days. Daytime temperatures are now very pleasant with the sixties easily reached and several days likely to be in the seventies. Sunshine hours have increased dramatically now and are almost twice that of January. The grape vines are now in first leaf and the farmers are cautious for frosts can still occur, damaging the new shoots. The sea is still cold so don’t be tempted to go for a swim on a warm day.
April: April is a fabulous month to visit Bordeaux. You can usually be guaranteed warm weather, even if one in three days is likely to see some rain. Temperatures are often in the seventies and whilst there is less sun than in March, you’ll still be treated to an average of around six hours a day through the month. The parks are now resplendent with colour and the vineyards a fresh lime green with the vines nearly in full leaf.
May: One of the most beautiful times to visit Bordeaux, May is a glorious month. Temperatures are now consistently in the seventies and may touch eighty for a couple of days in the month. Sunshine levels are nearly up to eight a day but you can still see some rain showers on one in every three days and more rainfall than in March or April. It’s perfect for the vines and refreshes the landscape for you!
June: This is where summer really begins. The number of rainy days drops significantly and the rain will mostly be just passing showers. Sunshine levels are nearing their highs and the temperature is regularly in the low eighties. The sea has warmed up sufficiently for a swim and elsewhere it’s definitely shorts and T-shirt weather.
July: July sees the lowest number of rainy days and the lowest amount of rain too for the year. It’s invariably in the eighties now and July has the joint highest amount of average sunshine hours with August. The locals are preparing for the holidays and a sleepy air descends over the region as the summer humidity starts to kick in.
August: The French know when to choose their holidays and August is the perfect month. The sea’s not quite at its warmest but it’s pleasantly warm to swim in. You may find a little more rainfall and one or two more showery days but on the whole, the temperatures are teasing the nineties and with sticky days and nights, the sea or a pool is the best place to be.
September: Autumn comes quickly to Bordeaux and the weather takes a dramatic turn for the worse in the month. You’ll get two more days of rain whilst the total rainfall increases by 50% on average, Temperatures are still good but the number of sunshine hours drops by a quarter. You may have good weather in September but it’s not guaranteed.
October: Sunshine levels are now below that of March and October brings foggy or cloudy days. The temperature still holds up thanks to the warm seas, with many days in the low twenties but the rainfall is nearly at its peak. If you encounter warm sunny days, swimming in the sea can be perfect.
November: Night times are now often frosty and rainfall is at a peak so you’ll either encounter mild wet days or sunny days with cold evenings and nights. More than one out of every three days is rainy and summer is but a distant memory.
December: December is a month to forget about with the lowest number of sunshine hours, less than a third of the summer levels. It’s the month with the most rainfall and highest number of wet days. You won’t even get snow at Christmas!
Best Time to Visit:
The best times to visit Bordeaux are in April and May when the weather has settled into an early summer, sunny and warm pattern. The flowers and vines are a picture and whilst the sea is still cool, the brave can manage it! Early September is another good time to visit whilst the weather is still warm and the autumn rains aren’t too severe. You’ll be heading into the grape harvest time and the air is thick with the scent of ripening grapes.