Saint Mamert, Saint Servais, Saint Pancrace, de leur passage laissent souvent trace
(Saint Mamert, Saint Servais, Saint Pancrace often leave their mark)
The weather is always a major topic of conversation in Provence and during April and early May when the sun is shining and the temperatures seem more appropriate to June, you might well hear a local say ‘Remember, the Ice Saints haven’t been yet!’ This is normally accompanied by a gloomy shake of the head and a little ‘tut tut’ of the tongue clicking against the roof of the mouth which always signifies disapprobation.
This means that until the feast days of Saint Mamertus, Saint Pancras and Saint Servatius (called the Ice Saints) on 11, 12 and 13 May have passed there could still be frosts. ‘Avant Saint Servais, point d’été, après Saint Servais, plus de gelée’. (Before the feast of Saint Servais, no summer, after Saint Servais, no frost.)
Of these three, apart from the fact that his feast day marks the end of frost, Saint Servatius might be the most useful in day-to-day life as he’s the one to invoke against rats and mice as well as ‘foot troubles, lameness, rheumatism’. It’s not clear what the connection is between the first two and the last three but Saint Servatius is clearly not a saint to be forgotten.
If you are heading to Provence on the train from London’s St Pancras station, you may be interested to know St Pancras is one of the Ice Saints, and can be invoked against modern ills like false witness and perjury.
Apparently they were a powerful lot, these Ice Saints.
So don’t be surprised if there’s a short sharp cold spell in April or early May. It won’t be long until the skies are blue again and spring in Provence is still magical – with fresh greens of every shade in the woods and fields, roses and irises flowering in gardens, tender leaves appearing on the vines and thick purple and white asparagus and shining, scented strawberries in the markets.
Just remember to pack a sweater in case.
To book your early-season break in Provence, have a look at our hand-picked Provence holiday rentals.