Friday, August 24, 2007

Make hay...

...(or Euros) when the sun doesn't shine, in France:

It's official: France's rainy, grey and generally cold summer has been the worst for the past 30 years, the weather service said Friday.

July and August were wet across two-thirds of the country while the Mediterranean region was too dry, said Frederic Nathan, meteorologist at Meteo France.

"Yes we can say that it was a rotten summer," said Nathan. But the summers of 1954 and 1977 were worse, he added.

Rainfall in northwestern France reached record levels, with cities like Le Havre registering 21 days of rain in July, beating the previous record of 16 in 1980.

In the northern city of Caen in Normandy, the weather service registered 592 hours of sunshine from May 1st to August 21, well below the average of 809 hours.

....The gloom and drizzle have been a boon for tanning salons which are reporting brisk business.

"The bad weather has left people feeling low. They want to be beautiful and tanned and are turning to us," said Dominique Baumier, the director of the Point Soleil chain of tanning salons.

With about 100 salons across France, Point Soleil said business was up 25 percent in July and 27 percent in August, compared to last year.

The other big winners of France's worst summer in decades are ... umbrella manufacturers.

Piganiol, Europe's biggest maker of umbrellas, said business was up a whopping 66 percent over the past summer.

"The rainshowers of the past four months have been a great source of happiness for us," said chief executive Jean Piganiol.

Umbrella sales were good in May and June, and they "exploded in July and August," he said.

Predictably, the tourism sector has suffered.

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