TV forecasters ‘ruining tourism in Normandy’

A tourism industry chief in Normandy has blasted negative TV weather forecasters for putting tourists off Normandy by giving people the impression it always rains in that part of northern France.

TV forecasters 'ruining tourism in Normandy'
BFM TV weather woman Fanny Agostini needs to look on the bright side when it comes to forecasting Normandy's weather. Photo: Screengrab BFMTV

Hervé Lebel, who created the fun park Festyland near the town of Caen and founded the tourist website Normandie Sites, has had enough of negative TV weather forecasts about the region in northern France.

He says weathermen and women on French TV have a huge responsibility to be accurate and look on the bright side when giving their forecasts for a region that relies so heavily on tourism.

“Normandy tourism relies heavily on Parisians, but when they watch the TV weather forecast on a Thursday night and it suggests rain in Normandy at the weekend, then no one comes and hotels lose 50 percent of their takings,” Lebel tells The Local.

“Forecasters need to know they can have a huge negative economic impact on the region. They have a huge responsibility.”

The businessman wants the residents of Normandy to help him establish a network of webcams that will show the real weather across the region.

(A bad day to go the Deauville beach in Normandy. Photo: AFP)

(A very bad day to go to the beach in Normandy. This was taken at Saint-Marcouff. Photo: AFP)

And Lebel also wants weather presenters to be more positive and in particular more accurate when it comes to the forecasts for Normandy and indeed northern France as a whole.

“The worst is when they say “risk of showers”, because if people see that they won’t come. But why do they have to be negative?” he said. “They give the impression the whole of Normandy is underwater.

“They also give the impression that if it's going to rain in Cherbourg for example then it’s raining across the northern coast of France. But it’s 1,000 km long. We are given the impression the weather is the same in Brest, Brittany as it is in Pas-de-Calais.

“They don’t do the same for the Atlantic coast or the Mediterranean coast, where they give more accurate forecasts.”

“Now French people always say 'It’s raining like in Normandy', as if it’s the only place in France where it rains. People know very well that the sun comes out in Normandy,” said Lebel.

(The sun does come out in Normandy. Don't believe what the forecasters say. Photo: AFP)

Lebel is calling on politicians running for December’s regional elections to back his campaign.

He wants the town of Caen, in central Normandy to become the place of reference for forecasters rather than the city of Cherbourg, which stands on the northern tip of the Contentin peninsular (see map).

(The weather can change between Cherbourg in the north west and Caen in the centre)

“The weather in Caen is a lot more temperate,” he says.

Lebel says he is grateful for the legions of British tourists who visit Normandy and who don’t appear to be put off by a hint of rain fall.

“If it rains in the morning the only people in the queue for the fun park are British,” he said. “They say ‘if we don’t go out in the rain, we’d never go out at all.”

“They are more used to it and say the weather in Normandy is fantastic. There’s never a problem, they just put on their rain jackets.

“It’s clear that the British can put up with a bit of rain better than the French can,” Lebel said.

But one weather presenter hit back at Lebel's complaint saying it was impossible to be totally accurate during a national weather show.

“People often complain about this when it comes to the north of France,” said France 2’s Anaïs Baydemir.

“We have a national forecast, we cannot have a forecast that’s too regional. We just don’t have the time. Fortunately there are smartphone apps now that allow us to get a more accurate forecast.”



Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.