Heavy rainfall events during the fall season are causing extended damages in Mediterranean catchments. A peaks-over-threshold model is developed for the extreme daily areal rainfall occurrence and magnitude in fall over six catchments in Southern France. The main driver of the heavy rainfall events observed in this region is the humidity flux (FHUM) from the Mediterranean Sea. Reanalysis data are used to compute the daily FHUM during the period 1958–2008, to be included as a covariate in the model parameters. Results indicate that the introduction of FHUM as a covariate can improve the modelling of extreme areal precipitation. The seasonal average of FHUM can improve the modelling of the seasonal occurrences of heavy rainfall events, whereas daily FHUM values can improve the modelling of the events magnitudes. In addition, an ensemble of simulations produced by five different general circulation models are considered to compute FHUM in future climate with the emission scenario A1B and hence to evaluate the effect of climate change on the heavy rainfall distribution in the selected catchments. This ensemble of climate models allows the evaluation of the uncertainties in climate projections. By comparison to the reference period 1960–1990, all models project an amplification of the mean seasonal FHUM from the Mediterranean Sea for the projection period 2070–2099, on average by +22%. This increase in FHUM leads to an increase in the number of heavy rainfall events, from an average of 2.55 events during the fall season in present climate to 3.57 events projected for the period 2070–2099. However, the projected changes have limited effects on the magnitude of extreme events, with only a 5% increase in the median of the 100-year quantiles. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.