Spring in the Pyrenees “arrives early and quickly feels like the summer”, according to one tourist website. Not this year.
Tourists usually come to cycle, hike, and marvel at wildflowers in the meadows. On Monday at the Col du Tourmalet (altitude 2,115 metres) they contemplated 10 metres of snow.
France and much of western Europe are experiencing the coolest May temperatures for 25 years. Bordeaux is seven degrees below normal; the Cannes Film Festival has been drenched.
In the Seine-et-Marne department east of Paris farmers squelch and shiver their way to work.
“For the strawberrries we are two to three weeks late, more because of the temperatures than because of the rain,” said farmer Thibaut Cozen.
“I love Paris in the springtime”: in the words of Cole Porter’s song, in the winter it “drizzles” and in the summer it “sizzles”.
There is no sign of a heatwave yet in the French capital. In fact forecasters say there is no sign of “any improvement” across the country between now and the end of May or even early June.
Tourists at Parc Astérix north of Paris clearly decided that if they were going to get wet anyway, they might as well do it in style. “Le Grand Splatch” rollercoaster ride, which needs little description, ends with an 11-metre plunge into water.
In parts of Germany and the Netherlands too it is the coldest month of May since 1962, the coolest on record. Forecasters say temperatures are set to drop still further over the next few days.
The lesson is: head east. The iron curtain may have disappeared; instead there is now a golden one across Europe as the two weather systems clash.
Moscow has been enjoying record springtime highs, and it is boiling hot across much of the former communist bloc.