Western Europe Weather Overview
Western Europe is home to some of the worlds most famous and sought after travel destinations. Like the colourful range of cuisine that can be tasted across Europe, the weather in Western Europe exhibits a similar exotic spread with a climate to suit every different palette. If skiing is your passion than head to the one famous ski resorts of the French Alps, such as Chamonix, Tignes or Morzine, if a quirky and interesting trip is your thingy than take a break in The Netherlands, or head over to Germany to learn about some of the continents most interesting and controversial modern day history.
France is divided into 26 different regions- amongst these regions the weather conditions vary significantly. As you travel from North to South, from East to West you will find your self experiencing a huge array of weather conditions- ranging from Continental to Oceanic, from Semi Continental to Mediterranean. Whatever climate ou palete is best suited for you will find it within the menu that France offers. The north west of France is home to the regions of Nord Pas de Calais, Picardie, Haute Normandie, Basse Normandie and Bretagne which once made up a large portion of the historic region of Brittany. As these regions lie on the Atlantic coast they are affected by the North Atlantic drift (or the Gulf Stream as it is more commonly known) which keeps conditions milder than inland regions.
The Gulf Stream has the affect of causing warmer winters, creating temperatures that are about 1 to 2 °C warmer than if the current wasnât present. Conditions in winter are cool but rarely freezing, and in summer they are warm but rarely boiling. In the summer months the coast is cooled by evening sea breezes which come of the Atlantic and these provide a welcome break from the peak temperatures in the midst of summer. Summer also sees the North West of France witness the most rainfall. While late spring and early summer are the wettest periods of the year, the region is still drier than the nearby south of England during the same period. The regions are also a few degrees warmer than the south of England, sitting in the high 20âs in the peak summer months and occasionally topping 30 °C. The climate of North West France, including popular destinations of Caen and Rennes, is best described as oceanic. An oceanic climate is typified by a narrow annual temperature range, precipitation throughout the year, mild winters and warm summers.
The historic Bretagne region which once made up 80% of the former region of Brittany, occupies the large peninsula in the west of France. It lies between the England Channel and the Bay of Biscay. Its capital city of Rennes lies upon a large hill when results in the north side of the ancient town being more elevated than the south- as a result you will experience slightly cooler conditions in the north side than when you venture into the lower lying south.
Once you head further inland into the regions of Ile de France, Centre, Bourgogne, Limousin, Auvergne and Champagne- Ardenne in the north the weather starts to exhibit continental conditions and greater variation in temperatures. Inland France sees hot stormy summers and cold winters with only very moderate rain fall. The countryâs capital, the romantic city of Paris, lies in the heart of the Ile de France region. This regionexperiences the countryâs lowest rainfall. In saying this however, you should expect rainfall at any time of the year, sporadic unexpected showers are common so best to come prepared with an umbrella. April through until August see the greatest rainfall, with May and June generally being the wettest. Summer in Paris and the surrounding region sees maximum average temperatures of 24 °C to 25 °C, with daytime temperatures of in the 30âs not uncommon. There are occasional heat weaves during summer months, and Paris has been known to see days in excess of 40 °C in the past. July and August will see the hottest temperatures, remaining warm but pleasant through until the end of September.
The north ofFranceexperiences a more temperate climate than the rest of inland France, and has a slightly stronger maritime influence than central France which lies further from the coast. The northern most region of Champagne- Ardennes (with Reirns being the largest city) has variable terrain which results in variable weather conditions. Higher altitudes see greater rainfall and cooler temperatures. The very north of France generally sees cold crisp winters and warmer dry summers. Central France is home to many historic and beautiful towns- Orleans, Lyon, Limoges, Clermont - Ferrand and Dijon to name a few of the larger towns.
Dijon lies within the region of Burgandy (Bourgogne in French) just east of the very heart of the country. The Burgundy region witnesses a continental climate that is characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable year round with rains, hail, and frost all possible around grape harvest time. The Burgandy region produces red wine made from Pinot Noir grapes and a smaller amount of white wine that is made from Chardonnay grapes. Because of the unpredictable climate, there is a lot of variation between the different vintages within Burgundy.
The south east ofFranceplays host to the glitz and glamour of the French Rivera. Southern France is home to the regions of Midi Pyrenees, Languedoc- Roussillon, the famed wine region of Aquitaine and the glamorous Provence Alpes Cote dâAzur. These regions enjoy a pleasant Mediterranean climate of long warm to hot summers and shorter mild winters. As you head further inland the conditions see greater variety, but when you are on the coast you will experience gorgeous summers, amazing springs and mild winters.
The Aquitine region is the place to go if wine is your thing, as some of the worlds most famous wineries are scattered through the picturesque French country side, including the vineyards around Bordeaux and Bergerac. Bordeaux experiences pleasant year round temperatures and mild but consistent rain fall throughout the year. April in the area sees an average high temperature of 16 °C and the average low is 6 °C. Throughout this time the region will see an average of 13 precipitation days. February to August will see Aquitaine at its driest; however there are still 12 to 14 rain days per month which isnât hugely different from the 15 to 17 rain days that are typical of the autumn/ winter months. December is when the region records its highest level of precipitation, averaging 109 mm.
Along the coast in the Cote dâAzur, summers are hot, with scarce rain for a 3 month period in the midst of summer. However, when it rains â" it pours and often accompanied by thunder. Sunshine is plentiful- up to eleven to twelve hours a day in summer and around five in midwinter. The scorching hot summer days are broken up by the evening sea breezes which waft over the coastal towns and provide a cooling breaking from heat and create an ideal atmosphere to enjoy what this alluring picturesque area has to offer. The mistral wind, which is a local prevailing wind, can often bring unseasonably cold weather for a few days in spring and can have you wondering if youâve just snapped back into winter. The majority of the C´te d'Azur is much less exposed to the cold blasts of the mistral and a lot of the region (including Corsica and Monaco) is moderated by the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Lying not far from the French Riveria are the French Alps which lie in the Provence-Alpes-C´te d'Azur and Rh´ne-Alpes. The French Alps house some of the best skiing destinations in the world. With the beachside resorts in the very south and the ski resorts to the north, this region of French is a year round tourist destination.
BELGIUM / THE NETHERLANDS / LUXEMBOURG
The conditions throughout Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands (or Holland as it is colloquially known) are pretty similar from country to country. Obviously the weather conditions vary as the geography varies, however the conditions are much the same across the three countries. Belgium and The Netherlands each have a similar countryside, which include long coastal regions lying upon the North Sea in the west. These coastal regions are affected by the Atlantic disturbances and prevailing coastal winds. In the Netherlands, 27% of the land in fact lies below sea level. As a result, there are numerous dikes constructed along the sea to prevent flooding onto the adjacent lowlands. The coastal regions of both countries are home to a fairly typical maritime climate which includes cool summers and mild winters. In Belgium the maritime lowlands of the coast is home to sand dunes, flat pasture land, and polders. This is much the same as you head into the Netherlands; however the lower elevation of the Netherlands and the Holland coast means that the plains are often muddier as they flood more frequently.
As you head away from the coast, the flat lowlands give way to the rolling hills and plateau of the central region. The south east sees the hills turn into higher mountain ranges. The extreme south east of Belgium is home to the Ardenees mountain range, and in the south east of the Netherlands you will find the countryâs highest point Vaalserberg, rising to 1,059 ft. As altitude increases and proximity from the sea becomes farther, the weather conditions become less mild. The winters at higher altitudes are much colder, and the temperatures see more extremes than when you are on the coast. Oostende is a Belgium coastal town that lies in the middle of the North Sea coast. Winter sees an average minimum of 1°C to 2 °C and a maximum of 5°C to 6 °C, whilst the summer months of June, July and August see average minimums of 1°C to 13 °C, and maximums of 18°C to 20 °C. Due to its coastal location the city is influenced by the Atlantic disturbances, and can see rainfall throughout the year. July and December have a tendency to be the wettest months.
Bruges lies in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the province of West Flanders, nearing the border to the Netherlands. Due to the cityâs proximity to the coast the weather is more consistent than the weather throughout inland Belgium. Summer sees an average of 22 °C, while the summers in coastal Belgium rarely get extremely hot Bruges does see significantly less summer rainfall than the rest of the country. Temperatures in winter rarely drop below zero, and the average temperature is about 6°C to 7 °C throughout June to August. Occasionally, Bruges can turn bitterly cold when the wind is blowing off the North Sea but generally days are clear, crisp and enjoyable. The weather tends to cool down come the end of October, and begins to warm up again by early April. Spring is a great time to visit as the weather is enjoyable and it is just prior to peak tourist season of summer so your visit will be considerably cheaper.
Once you head inland the conditions change slightly. While the conditions are still typical of a temperate maritime climate, the region is not AS mild as the coastal areas. Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the administrative heart of the European Union lays centre of the country within the Flanders region. Summers in Brussels are warmer than the coast and winters can be slightly cooler. Winters see an average minimum of 1°C to 3 °C, and daily maximum highs average out at 5°C to 6 °C through June to August. Summer on the other hand can see highs of 27 °C in the height of summer, and temperatures in excess of 30 °C are not hugely uncommon. The average minimum throughout summer is 14 °C, while the average maximum is a comfortable 23 °C. If visiting Brussels in the summer it is best to come prepared with a light sweater and an umbrella, as rain can fall at any time of the year and summer nights can occasionally get quite chilly. Brussels sees about 220 days of rain throughout the year, and because of its relatively high humidity (78% annual average) it plays hosts to a large number of thunderstorms year. On average, dramatic thunderstorms will occur on 29 days per year.
Once you head north, passing through Antwerp- home to a modern music and fashion scene and a climate very similar to Brussels but slightly milder, you will then reach the Netherlands- or âHollandâ as the country is often known as. (albeit known incorrectly as- Holland is in fact made up of only 2 provinces, North and South Holland, of the 12 in the country).
Amsterdam is the countryâs capital, and is an interesting city, to say the least! Lying in the centre of the Netherlands coast in northern Holland, Amsterdam sits floating above a web of circular canals. A result of clever town planning in the 17th century, the city is spread over calling for four main, concentric half-circles of canals that fan out from the central train station. Because city is surrounded by so much water, this has lead to Amsterdam being crowned Europeâs most humid city! With average relative humidity sitting at 82.5% year round, this can sometimes prove to be uncomfortable. It also experiences 214 rainy days a year, making it Europeâs 4th rainiest city (based on days of rainfall). However, it does actually only record less than 760 mm of precipitation annually as most of this precipitation falls during long periods of drizzle or light rain. June to August see average highs of 19°C to 21 °C (respectively) and lows of 10°C to 12 °C. While the weather in the summer is generally pleasant and comfortable, it can occasionally get very chilly at night so be sure to pack a coat. Obviously with rain falling on over 50% of the days of the year, you are likely to experience at least one day of rain during your stay.
2003 and 2006 each saw heat waves hit Amsterdam and the city recorded 11 and 13 days (respectively) where the mercury rose above 30 °C. Because of the humidity in Amsterdam if the temperature is over 30 °C it can resemble a tropical climate, mirroring conditions of island holiday resorts! Generally though there is about 22 days per year where the temperature is over 22 °C. Spring in Amsterdam is beautiful, the cafes and window sills are lined with blooming colourful flower boxes and the streets are alive with vibrant colour. Amsterdam is a colourful city year round, the quaint and quirk town houses are painted bright colours and the street side cafes are home to interesting wall artwork, so Springtime sees the city come alive with an even stronger burst of colour. March is still pretty chilly, with average high of 9.2 °C and average low of not quite 1 °C, but my May the barometer has risen slightly and average highs of 17 °C are seen. Winters in Amsterdam rarely see the temperature drop below freezing for long periods of time, though it does happen occasionally. On average, 58 days of the year see the mercury touch 0 °C. However, 2007 only saw 35 days where the temperature was below 0, whereas 2003 saw 75 days! The average temperature throughout the winter months of December to February sits at about 3 to 5 °C, with most rainfall occurring in December and January and begins to die off around February.
Rotterdam lies south of Amsterdam and is home to Europeâs largest port. Rotterdam has conditions similar to Amsterdam, albeit not as humid. June sees an average temperature of 15 °C, before moving up to an average of 17 °C in July and August. The Autumn months are generally slightly warmer than Spring, however both April and October each see an average daily temperature of about 9 to 10 °C. Winter can get chilly, with average minimums falling to 1 °C and average maximums only reaching 5 to 6 °C throughout December to February.
In the very north of the Netherlands you will find the province of Groningen, with a capital city of the same name. Groningen also has a moderate temperate climate, much like the rest of the country. The weather in the city is influenced in the North West by the North Sea and its prevailing north-western winds and gales. Winter is cool, often cold with snow falling on the odd occasion, though it doesnât settle for long as it is quickly melted by the warmer day time temperatures. Summer generally sees highs of mid 20âs, though the mercury can rise above 30 °C in the peak of summer.
2,586 square kilometres, is one of the smallest countries in Europe.
It borders Germany to the
east, France to the south
to the west. The climate in the tiny country is moderate, and pretty similar to
that of Netherlands and Belgium.
The northern third of the country, known as the 'Oesling', forms part of the Ardennes region and is significantly less populated then the southern parts of the country. There is only one town in this region that has a population in excess of 4000, this quiet town is called Wiltz and hosts a climate that is slightly cooler in winter and warmer in summer than cities lying in the lowlands of the country. Across the country as a whole the average July temperature is 17.5 Celsius and the average for January is 0.8 Celsius. Average rainfall is 782 mm annually.
For average temperatures, forecasts and seasonal disparities; refer to the UKâs weather overview