Skip to main content

We discovered these age-old methods for predicting the winter weather from a no longer published magazine from the Grand Massif called Alpine-Insider. With so many of these being accurate, we couldn’t not share the contents of the blog with you discovering natures barometer:

From The Alps Insider

(September 2014, source >>)

We’ve spoken to a bunch of old locals and we’ve found the key to predicting the winter season ahead, the old fashioned way.. with natures barometer! Back in the day (before Meteo Cham), farmers had no means of predicting the weather beyond ‘citations’, or sayings.  These catchy phrases were easy to remember and were passed down from one generation to the next verbally.  They provided a veritable guidebook to weather prediction that served for planning when to plant, harvest, and manage herds by.

Drawn from years upon years of experience with the environment and its seasons, there is some credibility to these funny old sayings, but they are proven incorrect as often as not, so don’t hang too much on what you read here!

So, we’ve selected a handful of common citations relating to the winter.  Each farmer has his own sayings he’ll swear by and his own special way of forecasting whether the winter will be average, good, or exceptional in terms of snow, so these are by no means exhaustive. But here are some of our favourite sayings for natures barometer:


“Si les oignons ont beaucoup de pelures, l’hiver sera dur”
If the onions have thick skins, a hard winter is on the way


The height that gentian flowers grow to during the summer months is said to signify the height that the snow will reach during the winter.  This year, the gentian flowers are remarkably tall (80cm in many alpine pastures).


“Si les fourmis font de gros tas, un dur hiver viendra”

If the ants make large mounds, a hard winter is on the way.


“Quand les abeilles font double ruche, l’hiver sera rigoureux”
When bees make a double-layer hive, a hard winter is on the way

“Si au début de l’automne les abeilles calfeutrent l’entrée de la ruche, c’est prévision d’un hiver dur”
If in early autumn the bees weatherproof the entrance to their hive, a hard winter is on the way.


“Quand les bêtes à cornes rentrent à l’étable la queue en trompette : signe d’orage. Quand elles agitent leurs pieds de derrière :signe de neige”
When the animals return to the barn with their tails raised, a storm is coming; when their hind legs are agitated, snow is on the way


“Quand les poules commencent à se déplumer par la tête, c’est signe de grand hiver”
When the chickens start to go bald on their heads, a big winter is on the way


“Si la Caille pond en août, l’automne sera chaud”
If the quail lay their eggs in august, the autumn will be warm.


“Les souris qui creusent trop bas, les fourmis qui bâtissent trop haut, présagent un hiver peu chaud”
Mice digging unusually deep, ants building unusually high; both signals that a cold winter is on the way.


“Si l’été est pluvieux, l’hiver sera rigoureux”
A rainy summer means a rigorous winter

“Temps trop beau et frais en Août, annonce Hiver en courroux”
Too much clear and cool weather in August announces a wrathful winter to come.


“S’il tonne encore en septembre, à Noël la neige sera haute”
Thunder storms in September mean lots of snow at Christmas

“En Septembre, quand tu entends la grive chanter, cherche la maison pour t’abriter ou du bois pour te chauffer”
When you hear the thrush sing in September, hunt for a house to shelter you or firewood to keep you warm


“Pluie à la St-Denis, en hiver beaucoup de pluie”
Rain on St Denis’ Day means a wet winter ahead

“Si le temps est clair à la Saint-Denis, l’hiver sera rigoureux”
Clear weather on St Denis’ Day means a rigorous winter ahead


“Brouillard en novembre, l’hiver sera tendre”
A foggy november means a gentle winter to come

“En Novembre, si la première neige ne prend pas, de l’Hiver elle ne prendra”
If in November the first snowfall doesn’t settle permanently, it won’t settle in the winter to come.


The weather at Christmas time is said to dictate the rest of the winter :

“Tonnerre à Noël, pas d’hiver”
Thunder at Christmas means there will be no winter

“Ciel laiteux à Noel, partout très long gel”
A milky sky at Christmas announces a long cold period to come

“Noël porte l’hiver dans sa besace, s’il ne l’a pas devant, il l’a derrière”
Christmas carries the winter in its backpack; if there is none before, there will be plenty afterwards

“Quand on a l’hiver avant Noël, on est sûr d’en avoir deux”
When the winter arrives before Christmas, we’re sure to have two

“Quand à Noël, on se chauffe au soleil, le jour de Pâques, on se chauffe à la bûche de Noël”
When at Christmas we warm ourselves in the sun, at Easter we’ll warm ourselves in front of the fire.


“S’il gèle à la Saint Raymond, l’hiver est encore long”
If St Raymond’s Day (7th January) brings frost, the winter will be long.


“Qui écoute trop la météo reste au bistrot”
He who pays too much attention to the forecast never leaves the café !

So what have we seen so far that is getting us excited for a big winter this year?

Thunderstorms in September!

Our chickens are starting to shed!

An unusually rainy August!

We will be sure to keep you updated on social media on what other of les anciens predictions from natures barometer become apparent in the coming weeks and months. And of course, we continue to dream of another big winter again this year!


We hope to see you soon 🙂