This study describes a method to calculate long-term temperature trends, as an alternative to the ones based on monthly mean temperatures, which are highly impacted by the high winter variability partially due to wave-mean flow interactions like Sudden Stratospheric Warmings (SSW). This method avoids the strong influence of SSWs and provides “background” temperature trend estimates which are in better agreement with expected direct radiative effects. The data set used results from lidar measurements – performed above southern France continuously since late 1978 – combined with radiosonde profiles. With this new methodology, the long-term trends during winter at 40 km shows a larger cooling per decade (−2 ± 0.4 K) than when the mean temperature is used (−0.4 ± 0.4 K). The background temperature trend is closer to the summer trend estimates which are similar whatever the temperature proxy used, due to the absence of SSWs (−2.9 ± 0.3 K per decade with the mean-based method and −3.4 ± 0.3 K per decade with the background-based calculation). Based on this background temperature, composite evolutions of winter anomalies for both vortex-displacement and vortex-splitting major SSWs have been displayed: in both cases the largest warming occurs at the time of the SSW in the upper stratosphere, with mean amplitudes of more than 10 K. A warm signal in the upper mesosphere could suggest a potential precursory role of gravity waves. Displacement-type events present an 18-day periodicity, which is a clear sign of the wave number one Rossby wave. Colder tropospheric temperatures are noticed before and during the SSW, and warmer ones after the event, with a stronger signal for split-type events.