The Vendee microclimate
Being located on the French Atlantic coast, the Vendée is blessed with some of the sunniest weather in France, equivalent to the weather found on the French Riviera. Its coastal location gives the area a mainly dry climate, but that is only part of the reason for such wonderful weather, and several factors come together to contribute to the Vendee’s magnificent climate. If you look at the map denoting hours of sunshine, you will notice that the good weather starts close to the coast near the mouth of the Loire and then widens to its maximum around Fontenay-le-Comte in the southern Vendée, before declining to finish at the mouth of the Gironde near Bordeaux.
Although rivers do seem to play their part, the Vendeen weather is more due to the prevailing weather being driven by the Atlantic flow, in the form of the Gulf Stream. The weather breaks in the Bay of Biscay; one spur forms the Western Approaches and gives northern Europe its mild humid weather, and the other spur heads south to form the Portuguese trade winds.
The void left behind is the start of that fine weather. It is of course not entirely that simple; the geographic make-up of the land is also a major contributor to the climate of the region.
The Vendée has 3 pockets of marshlands that run down the coast; these areas also extend some distance inland, and this is especially true of the Marais Poitevin which advances some 40 kilometres from the sea. There is also the Luçon to Fontenay prairie, an area of low flat land, large fields and very few trees. From the marais and the prairie, the land starts to rise and is then covered in trees, woods and forests. This is called the bocage.
As the oncoming weather reaches the bocage, it starts to rise; this cools the air and the prevalence of trees further adds to the cooling process. Clouds quickly form and hence more rain falls. This means that within 15 to 20 kilometres east of the Prairie the weather changes considerably. The Vendée Charente Maritime micro climate produces some 2,400 hours of sunshine a year, and, coupled with some of the best blue flag beaches in France, it is not difficult to see why the Vendée is one of Europe’s top holiday destinations.
From June to September, daily temperatures are regularly in the mid-20s. July and August are the hottest months, with average temperatures between 20-30 degrees centigrade. Summer temperatures are, in general, very comfortable, and it rarely gets too hot for comfort, especially on the coast, although occasional summer heat-waves can bring temperatures into the 30’s. There is little rain and lots of sunshine in the summer. June, July and August are the driest months. Days in peak summer enjoy an average of up to 10 hours of sunshine.