Moving to the Dordogne. We would like some honest advice about the weather/climate?


Myself and my partner Jackie are well advanced in our plans to leave the UK and head south permanently to France. Jackie has lived in France before (ten years on the Riviera) and I am a confirmed Francophile that has spent plenty of time in France. We will be running our own horticultural business and quirky holiday accommodation from a size able plot of land.

The eastern part of the Dordogne is our favoured location and we have just got back from a weekend visit to visit a property near Hautefort. We also visited for three weeks in September 2013 and spent the time viewing properties around the Haute Vienne in Limousin and also around the Dordogne.

We would like some honest advice from any of you who live in the Dordogne permanently and have maybe been there for some time. We have had many discussions with estate agents about aspects of living and working in the Dordogne and one thing we are concerned about particularly is the weather.

We have done lots of on line research but obtaining actual yearly data of the 'history' of the weather in the Dordogne is hard to find. Any ideas?

There are plenty of sites giving climate averages etc, but what we really want to know is how is the weather generally, particularly in the winter months. Are the winters dry and sunny with frost or are wet rainy mild winters the norm?

We lived in stunningly beautiful North Wales for many years but in the end, the constant poor summers (2006 -11 inclusive), very high rainfall and general grey overcast skies made us realise we longed for a warmer drier and sunnier climate. Since 2011 we have had a temporary stopover in Kent.

When we came over last week, we were quite surprised to see flooded fields all the way from Bordeaux to the Dordogne. Everywhere we went in the Dordogne there was evidence of substantial rainfall and flooding. From speaking to people during the visit it seems SW France has been experiencing a very mild and very wet winter so far?

This is definitely the case in the UK with the south east having over 200% of it's normal rainfall and we've hardly seen the sun since November! I am sure many of you have read of the floods we have been getting? In fact, winter 2013/14 is set to be the wettest in England since records began!!

We don't want to be in a dry, arid and too hot climate such as the Mediterranean coast, but equally we want to be sure we are not planning to move somewhere where the winter climate is pretty wet.

Does the eastern Dordogne still have a maritime climate or is there a greater continental influence (i.e. hot dry summers and cold but sunny winters)

The property we looked at last week near Hautefort, had seven acres but the land was saturated even though much of it sloping!!

This fact just set a few alarm bells ringing with us!

We realise that climate isn't the be all and end all but we would just like to obtain as much information as possible.

We are looking forward to the advice!

Regards Paul and Jackie

Fascinated to know WHY you are moving (?), "lot's of reasons why", so what is the name of the explanatory thread? (We are in the Touraine (41) and are thinking of moving too).

Hi Barbara.

I have sent a friend request as I will be in your area and we would love to meet up for a coffee and pick your brains.if you remember I used to have a restaurant and I was asking about Gites.

Tim Sadler

It mad that there has suddenly been a load of replies to this discussion that I originally started over two years ago!! We did not end up in the Dordogne in the end but the Charente. We are not looking to stay in the Charente and our property will be going on the market in the spring! Lot's of reasons why we are planing to move on, but that is all in another thread!

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We are in 33890 Vines, bastides,tourism.

Usually the weather in winter is much like it is in London, except that there

seems to be much more sunshine and summer last for longer periods and is

more intensely rich with everything which summer time offers.

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Just under 30km from you even the Dordogne river itself has an influence. Weather the other side of the river, roughly 1km from us at closest, is different to the other side. The reason is that on the northern bank in a few places, but usually no more than a few hundred metres away there is an escarpment that rises high above the Dordogne and Vézère rivers, in some places up to around 200m. That is what is left of the old glacial valley sides on the harder limestone that side of the river. On this side it tends to go into gentler hills on the softer limestone. That finishes as it tapers off toward Bergerac thus having a less pronounced effect there. Along here we have horrendous fogs in the early hours, can watch it drift along the small stream valley we are on that meets the Dordogne nearby. Drive away from here, turn east toward Sarlat and the immediate next place Cussac is higher and is very often entirely for free, down into Le Buisson and back into the fog because it is right on the river. When it gets hot, this side of the river swelters whereas the other side has slight breezes cause by thermal movements where the sun warmed water disturbs the air beside the escarpment. Since the real influence is really maritime, even on the apparently stillest day the airflow is off the Atlantic to the west or southwest which drives the air up and over the escarpment. People who live along the bank below the sheerer parts talk about it be 'airless' when it is hot, the effect of the therms being pushed toward and over the escarpment.

It is very varied and sometimes deceptive. Going to see somebody in Sainte-Alvère one very warm spring morning two years ago I just wore a tee-shirt. When I arrived there I wished I had sweater. The variation is incredible in such small areas, but that is geography for you.

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If a bit of rain in the winter and a bit of cold is bothering you after you have come from northwales I dont thonk you are ready for the move here …I live in the dordogne not 30 mins form hautefort here is a weather report …its cold in the winter and because of all this lovely forest needs water its rains …sometimes its heavy and the rivers burst the banks and low bits get flooded…then it goes and ta dah …its hot for long perods of time then thats it …

There is a clear sliding scale of T° & humidity in Dordogne, the more you go North & East the cooler and wetter it gets (in a statistically significant way). I would not be happy living in the NE of the Départment myself (I am an effete southeasterner from the Côte d'Azur) but I can manage OK in the SW of it. The 45th parallel runs across the Dordogne about half-way between Bergerac and Périgueux, you do see a difference N & S of it.

Dear Paul, Perhaps, if you like the idea of living in the Dordogne, you might consider the Northern Dordogne. We have been here for some 20 years and everything seems to grow remarkably well. The summers can get quite hot in July/August but the rest of the year, I would say, is generally mild with good growing climate and just enough rain to keep the vegetation green all year. We are in a village near Riberac which has a weekly market, as do nearly all the towns nearby where you could set up a stall to sell your products locally.

Good luck with your search and we hope you find what you are looking for.


I think there is much less rain south of the Dordogne river. We are in Eastern Gironde and the weather is very good but cold in the winter. We have had a light dusting of snow in January 2010. The soil is light with patches of clay. Lots of vines of course and also plum trees, corn, sunflowers and a bit of pasture. Plenty of woodland.

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My suggestion would be to consider moving a little further inland and look at the South Correze. More hills and I haven't noticed any flooding round here. Plus, we have been here in Puy d'Arnac for four years and have only seen a sprinkling of snow that disappeared very quickly. Our 87 year old neighbour has lived here all her life and says snow simply doesn't happen! Yes, there are frosts, and we are some 400m above sea-level but coming from the Saone-et-Loire it IS positively tropical by comparison.

We ended up here after finding the property prices were far, far lower than the LOT and the Dordogne - and we have no less than six of The Most Beautiful Villages in France within 30 minutes of our doorstep, but are not overwhelmed with tourists in the Summer.

I agree with others though that for whatever reasons, the seasons are changing, but from my ancient bones point of view getting warmer is a bonus!

Oh, I just noted you have already purchased so maybe a bit late to ask for opinions?


I know from personal experiance as my wife and I were registered farmers in France for almost 10 years, it can be a very expensive profession without subsidies to help....on top of the charges to the MSA, compulsory accountants fees used to cost us a minimum of 1,300 Euros per year.

Dear Paul and Jackie,

This link will give you detailed records taken by me from 2009 onwards day by day of rainfall and temperature [Go to the index for the weather figures] I live just south of Sarlat in the neighbouring dept of the Lot (46). Your posting has made me check that the blog was up to date, which I have just ensured. If you have difficulty let me know.

A book written for children of the history of the Dordogne in the early 19th century (title I think is Jacques le Croquant) details deep snow and roaming wolves.

Last December 2015 gave us just FIVE mms of rain whilst England was being flooded in parts.

This January alone we had 131 mm and February has seen so far 58 mms. Last July gave 12 mm but August saw 105.

As others have said the weather is extremely variable.

My daughter grows cut flowers for sale - it is not a thriving business. Oddly it seems to me, the spring flowers appear later here than in England. My daughter in Milton Keynes always seems to get snowdrops and crocuses before us. But this year has been very strange. Cultivated daffodils have been in flower since the beginning of the year about two months early for us. Lesser Celandines are already in flower. Distributions of wildflowers are different from in the UK. We have no wild primroses in the LOT - They are in the Dordogne. Bluebells are rare. The seasons change rapidly. In early spring in March one can rise to a clear frost and then prefer to be in shorts in the afternoon.

I should also add that many readers of this site will know that I have been extremely occupied with political issues concerning BREXIT and the Winter Fuel Payment. It would my advice to watch the political scene rather closely. If the citizens resident in the UK voted to withdraw from the EU the future could bring some unfortunate developments and it could give you need to think carefully.


Good point, Mike, minimum forfait charges sociales at the MSA will be around 5000€ a year regardless of income...!

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Hi Paul, you say you are going to set up a Horticultural business which is classed as a farming activity in France, have you done a thorough check on what is involved and the costs associated with running a horticultural business in France?

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Paul, it seems that you cannot count on previous weather history wherever you live.
However, the west of France, like that of UK are experiencing strong weather fronts coming in from the Atlantic. They often divide off Spain and one half passes along the western coast of France and up to UK and the other half passes along the Meciterranean coast and up into north western Italy.
We watch this with interest as we live in Southern Burgundy and miss most of these severe weather events, for the moment!

Try Used Bergerac as an example. I have found that the granularity goes down to communes.

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Hello Paul (and Jackie). Looks like we will be neighbours ! We have just bought a place in the neighbouring commune of Aubigné and are moving in a few weeks time. Are you still going to be opening a horticultural business ?

Incidentally, if you want to see weather records, averages and so on, have a look at the weather online site. They have a “climate robot” that allows you to see averages, maxima, minima and so on for certain weather stations. The nearest to Couture would probably be Cognac. Shout if you need any help in using it.

Hello Everyone. Thank you for all the replies! Certainly gives us lots of different perspectives on the weather down in SW France. We are no longer moving to the Dordogne, but won't be too far away. We have purchased a beautiful traditional fermette in the Charente countryside, a few kilometres south west of Ruffec. The house is in the commune of Couture and comes with 4.5 acres of meadow. When we viewed the house in April we spent a lot of time surveying the land and even took soil samples, which a soil scientist friend of ours has checked over. Apparently the soil is calcareous to neutral which is pretty good for growing and the drainage is excellent. We are very happy with our purchase and will be coming down in early September to sign for the house. We then plan to move down in October and will live in a caravan for a few months whilst we assist our builder with the internal renovation. We are buying the house directly from the commune as the previous owner died without any heirs. Fortunately the commune have already paid for a new roof and have maintained the exterior of the house and grounds. Just the inside for us to renovate, so we hope to be in by Christmas!! Very excited!! We have read that Poitou Charente is one of the sunniest places in France, but excellent for growing with regular rainfall. To be honest, where we are in North Kent at present has extremely low annual rainfall of around 600mm a year on average. This is much lower than where we previously lived in North west Wales for 10 years (1200mm!!) I think a happy medium in the Charente will be just right and as someone has's not all about the weather!!

hello Paul and Jackie - we have been here for nearly 20 years and have loved it. like everywhere the climate has changed - particularly since the tempete of 1999, but we still say it is like living in a greenhouse as everything grows so well. The worst month is February - it rains!

You need to be in the West of the Dordogne where we are - limestone soil which drains well - and grows things - no flooding here and our well is used to water the garden -clean the car -fill up the pool etc. Explore this side -near Riberac-good access for Bergerac and Bordeaux and there is lot going on -

Best of Luck - you wont regret it!