A forecaster spokesperson said that from May 4-6, “a mass of cold polar air directly from the Arctic [hit, leading to] frosts over lowlands to the foothills of the Pyrenees, often in the range of 0°C to -2°C. Some records, some more than 50 years old, were broken.”
Among the longest-standing records broken were those registered at Barcelonnette, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (-7.4°C), a weather station that had been open since 1959, which previously had a cold record for May dating back to 1979.
The coldest temperature of -10°C was recorded at a weather station in Alpe-d'Huez (Isère) on Monday night (May 6), with the same station recording -7.7°C later that day, less than its lowest ever May temperature of 7.5°C, which was recorded on May 8, 1997.
A station in Beauvais (Oise) - which has been keeping track since 1944 - broke its own 1957 record when the temperature dropped to -2.4°C, while La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime) broke a 1951 record with 1.94°C.
Brest (Finistère) - whose station dates back to 1945 - broke its record of 0°C in May 1945 and 1979, with a new low of -0.2 °C.
Records were also broken in Auch (Gers), Vic-en-Bigorre (Hautes-Pyrénées) and Biscarosse (Landes).
Even Corsica did not escape the cold.
The Ile Rousse station, which has been measuring since 1988, broke its May record on Sunday 5, recording a low of 6°C versus the 7°C shown for the month in 1991.
Jean-Marc Malfitano, forecaster at Météo France Ajaccio, said: “It is quite rare for the month of May. We are more used to beating high temperature records, which temperatures that are rising year-on-year. Low records are much less frequent.”
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France