Climate of the Queyras
Weather conditions in the French Alpine region of Queyras
The mountains of the Queyras have a privileged location with regards to climate. The climate of the region is influenced both by its south easterly location with regards to the Alpine chain and the mountains themselves.
In general, the mountains of the Alps have a cooler and wetter climate than the corresponding lowland valleys and in general the summer months tend to become sunnier as you travel south. The position of the Queyras, however means that the Atlantic weather systems tend to be very weakened by the time they reach this part of the southern Alps. As a result it enjoys almost 300 days with sunshine per year and rainfall totals are very much reduced compared to the mountains further north and west, with only about 700mm per year in the valleys which is comparable to many non-mountainous parts of France. Much of this precipitation falls as snow in a limited number of snow events in the winter. Sporadic thunderstorms in the summer are not uncommon.
The pleasant climate of the Queyras makes it an ideal destination for a walking holiday in the Alps. High Point Holidays has both guided and self-guided walking holidays in the Queyras.
The high sunshine levels mean that villages were historically located at high altitudes in the Queyras with Saint Veran at 2000m being a record in Europe. Despite its altitude the temperatures at Saint Veran are comparable to villages at much lower altitudes elsewhere in the Alps.
The period for taking a trekking or walking holiday in the Queyras is from mid-June, when the vast majority of the winter snow has melted, to mid-September, after which temperatures are lower and snowfall becomes more common. During these summer months, temperatures during the day, even at altitude can be warm, although it is rarely very hot. Maximum day time temperatures in the mid-twenties are common in the villages at altitude during late July and early August. Night time temperatures can be fresh with frosts at high altitudes.
Snow can fall in the Alps above 2000m at any time of year, although it generally melts very quickly in the Queyras. Small pockets of snow from the winter can still be present on the highest passes and summits. Wind chill at higher altitudes can make it feel cold, especially if this is associated with wet weather.
There is another local weather phenomenon affecting the Queyras called the Nebbia, which may be noticeable in the eastern part of the region. This could affect one of the days on the guided walking holiday and one day of the trekking tour of the Queyras. This is when the abundant water vapour given off in the Po basin in Italy rises with the heat and sunshine of the day. From about 10am it starts to condense at altitude and forms thick banks of cloud which roll in against the mountain slopes until they hit the dry air of the Queyras where they dissipate. This occurs in summer on average one in every three days and could affect the summits on the Italian border. Often the cloud is lying just the other side of the border in Italy so that your day's walking is not affected.