Where to buy French property… if you want sunshine

Where to buy French property… if you want sunshine

Karen Tait explores the very sunniest corners of the country

Generally speaking, the further south you go, the more sunshine you can expect, but there are many variations in between. You don’t necessarily have to head for the south of France, although the region with the most annual sunshine hours is Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, with 2,724 hours in Nice. Also on the Mediterranean, Languedoc is another hotspot, with 2,668 hours in Montpellier.

The amount of sunshine per region can vary considerably from town to town. In Aquitaine, also in the south but on the Atlantic side, Bordeaux enjoys 2,035 hours of sunshine a year, while Biarritz further south has less sun at 1,887 hours. You may also find that inland areas are sunnier than the coast – Agen, also in Aquitaine but close to the Midi-Pyrénées border, has 1,982 hours of sunshine.

In fact, Midi-Pyrénées is a real sunny delight – the residents of Millau enjoy 2,157 sunshine hours a year, while Albi basks in 2,113 hours, and the regional capital Toulouse has a respectable 2,031 hours.

In Pays-de-la-Loire, an easy day’s drive from the Channel ferry ports, La Roche-sur-Yon has 1,852 sunshine hours, while in Poitou-Charentes, Cognac has 1,995. Even as far north as Brittany you can expect plenty of sun – Lorient in the Morbihan department has 1,827 sunshine hours.

At the heart of France, Auvergne, while snowy in winter, has a surprising amount of sunshine – 2,117 hours in Aurillac. Mountainous areas are often sunny, although they tend to be rainier too (or snowy). Rhône-Alpes, home to France’s top ski resorts, has 1,986 hours of sun in Bourg-St-Maurice at the foot of the pistes, while the regional capital Lyon boasts 2,001 hours. In Franche-Comté, Besançon has 1,836 sunshine hours, but it also has 1,187mm of annual rain, compared to just 733mm in Nice.

The lush landscapes of Limousin are often attributed to plentiful rain – but there’s lots of sunshine too, and perhaps less rain than you might expect – for example, Brive-la-Gaillarde has 2,007 sunshine hours with 901mm of rain. Other sunny inland areas include Burgundy (1,881 in Macon), Centre (1,840 in Châteauroux) and Champagne-Ardenne (1,816 in Troyes).

Areas for sunseekers to avoid are along the north coast, where there are generally around 1,600 sunshine hours a year. However, while Lille in Nord-Pas de Calais only has 1,617 sunny hours, it also has just 742mm of rain per year, similar to Nice.

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