The Mistral: Provence’s Half-Demon, Half-Angel Wind

Who has never heard of the Mistral wind of Provence, with its many advantages and disadvantages? Half-angel, half-demon, it is at times appreciated, at times maligned...
By Angélique Jurquet

Like the sun, the Mistral is a weather phenomenon synonymous with Provence... Almost as popular as it is feared, this dry wind, whose speed and force are due to the ‘Venturi effect,’ blows in gusts about 130 days per year from the Languedoc region to the Var, via the Rhone Valley.

Absolutely freezing in winter, the Mistral however is rather popular during the hot days of July, when it brings some coolness when the sun is a little too strong. But it also has the disadvantage of significantly cooling the Mediterranean, propelling the warm coastal water seaward and thus deterring the most timid swimmers to take the plunge! Another constraint of this half-angel half-demon wind, it doesn’t help the firefighters in case of fire.

Since time immemorial, Provence and its people make do with the Mistral, or “Mistrau” in Provençal, which was even considered a great evil in the past. Nature bears the trace of this wind that blows to the northwest, with, for example trees leaning mostly to the south! If winegrowers appreciate Le Mistral it’s because it tends to keep diseases from the vines, while farmers protect their crops from the gusting wind that could dry out the crops by planting rows of cypress trees and poplars.

The Mistral Wind
The Mistral Wind
The wind of Provence
Photographies: José Nicolas
The Mistral Wind
The Mistral Wind
The wind belongs to the Provence landscape
Photographes: José Nicolas

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