The winter in Ardeche – December, January and February – can be harsh, wet and unforgiving. It can also be bright blue skies and lunch in a t-shirt kind of weather and you can almost always find flowers and buzzing bees. For winter bathers it can be heaven. Sometimes the mistral winds blow relentlessly from the north, cleaning, cooling and drying the air and the ground; sometimes the Mediterranean winds from the south bring warm-ish wetness. Always impressive and cuddling up by a wood fire sheltered from the storm by thick stone walls when the winds and rains torment the region is always nice. See for yourself!
Below the photo gallery you’ll find what was written on an earlier version of the site about these three months of stark contrast with the boiling hot summers that Ardeche is known for.
The winter gradually sets in, but then you find yourself gardening in a t-shirt and having lunch in the mid-day sun. Soon it will be winter solstice and it all starts over again, returning to the light and longer days. Great place for the holidays and the New Year! The rocks are getting colder and there might even be sub-zero degrees at night and – if you are lucky – a bit of snow, but it is rare.
The deep of the winter in Ardeche. Relatively short, but proper cold. Super bright, starry skies. Quieter than usual, punctuated by the suddenly roaring, desert-dry mistral (mud-eater wind), which keeps the landscape in a freeze-dried state on a backdrop of a steel-blue hue. The rocks are ice-cold and the Cevennes to the south-west, the Ardeche mountains to the north and the Alps to the east have snow and ice, cooling the entire region and setting southern Ardèche apart from the true Mediterranean climate which is rarely allowed such cooling.
Early February is deep in the winter, while in late February the winter begins to give way. Yet the sunny days are frequent and lettuce seeds are germinating in the garden, while the mosses are flowering wildly, living it large before the heat returns, and everything else appears dormant, except the rivers, which are now absolutely perfect for winter bathing. Suddenly, however, snow comes and everything changes for a few days…
As suggested by these photos, the winter in Ardeche can be rough, but the scenery is well worth a visit. Even if the days are short, sometimes windy and mostly cold (0 to 15 degrees C.), they are often bright and sunny and at night we gather around the fire.
… and if you fancy skiing, Croix de Bauzon in the Cevennes is not far away: