Living down here one of the rules of life that you take for granted is that Provence is dry and Britain is wet. This year, however, has been the year of exceptions. So we were recently in the UK for Chris’ dad’s 90th birthday (congratulations again!) and didn’t see any rain for over a week, but returned to find Provence under thick cloud, the legendary blue skies a memory and an awful lot of water about.
In fact, last month in particular has broken all records in our department, and as we write this, more rain is forecast for the next week or so. It’s not just the volume of rain, it’s the ferocity of it that has caused problems. Roads have been suddenly inundated, cars washed away and bridges threatened. There has been a small loss of life but thankfully not on the scale of the 2010 flood where there were at least 30 deaths.
Being on a slight slope we personally have been fine, but a number of roads have been briefly cut. It has however been remarkably spectacular. Here’s the Florièye, the river that flows through our village, at a higher point where the bed is dry for most of the year and a ford connects the two sides:
As shown in the photo below, in summer people swim and play on this beach on the river Argens on the edge of Vidauban, about 1.5 km from our house.
The floods however transformed this scene beyond recognition. The building in this photo is behind the trees in the first photo. And at the time of the photograph the water level had slightly dropped from its peak. If you click here, you can see a small video taken from the bridge.
With the heavy rain came major storms and wind damage along the coast. Here in the Gulf of St Tropez (which we visited with a friend on Friday) large buoys and even boats were tossed ashore. Elsewhere the flooding undercut many banks and toppled trees.
Just over the border, the storms delivered snow on the Alps, seen here across the bay of St Tropez.
We always need rain down here but you can definitely have too much of a good thing!