France's 'coldest village' has its first frost-free October on record

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France's 'coldest village' has its first frost-free October on record
The village of Mouthe, pictured in 2017 in its more usual appearance with frost and snow. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

The hamlet that styles itself as 'France's coldest village' is in the news again.


The coldest place in the whole of France is, apparently, the village of Mouthe in the Doubs département of France, close to the Swiss border.

The village (which is pronounced 'moot') bases its claim on one January day in 1968, when Météo France recorded France's coldest temperature as -36.7C.


The Mouthe marie says that this wasn't even the coldest day in the village. Officials claim a record of -41C in 1985, but this has not been officially corroborated by Météo France so -36.7C retains its status as the coldest official temperature record.

And it's not just a one-off either, on average temperatures fall below -25C at least every other year in Mouthe.

Mouthe proclaims itself as France's coldest village. Photo by Sebastien Bozon / AFP

The reason why Mouthe is so chilly is because it sits between two mountain ranges and is at the bottom of a basin-shaped valley where, if there is no wind, freezing air falls to the valley floor. 

It stays cool in the summer too with the mercury rarely rising above 30C, so if you're not a fan of heatwaves, then this is the perfect escape location.

The reason Mouthe is in the news again is that this year - for the first year on record - no frost was recorded in October.

Weather records for Mouthe go back to 1880, although the records for the years 1932-1943 are missing, but scientists can say this is the first recorded instance of there being no frost in Mouthe in October.

During the period 1951-1980, the village saw an average of 18 days in October that had frost or sub-zero temperatures, while unusually cold years in 1888 and 1974 saw 28 frosty days apiece - basically the whole month.

But in recent years the frosts have been getting rarer, with both 2004 and 2006 recording just two frosty days each.

The warmer temperatures are also affecting ski resorts in both France and Switzerland, where the opening of many resorts has been delayed by a lack of snow.

The frostless 2022 follows an exceptionally warm October for the whole of France, with temperatures of 31C recorded in the south west in the final week of October, while northern France saw temperatures of 23C-26C. 

Meanwhile the drought continues and dozens of areas in France remain under strict water conditions while farmers fear losing another season's crops.

The warm October comes at the end of a year that broke all sorts of temperature records in France, and across the world, as the climate crisis accelerates and global temperatures continue to rise.

IN NUMBERS How hot has France's record-breaking October been?

The city of Paris recently ran an emergency-planning exercise for the day that temperatures hit 50C, something expected to happen in the years to come.


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