Sunday, July 06, 2008

Chaud la Vie

Residential France goes all quiet during the months of July and August. Going to work is a doddle because the schools are out and as a result, much less traffic is on the roads. There are fewer people about and they make less noise seeing as it's so hot everyone is as inactive as possible.

Villages seem deserted as residents hide behind closed shutters to keep out the heat. We grope our way around in the penombre, only throwing open the windows when the sun goes down. Living by traditional means avoids a dependency on air-conditioning. But you do need a well-insulated house and effective shutters.

Early morning, throw open everything to encourage a through draft of cool air. When the temperature starts to climb, close everything. It'll be quite dark, but if you don't, you'll roast and sweat then be obliged to go shopping, lingering in the frozen foods section for a good dose of fraicheur.

Even shopping is pleasanter. Go during the hottest times of the day and you'll have the supermarket almost to yourself. Go at lunch time and you'll marvel at the ease with which you can negotiate the aisles and linger over goodies without provoking a log jam.

Eat light and fresh, have a siesta, go with the flow. When the sun starts to set you can fling open doors and windows and fish out a refreshing bottle of white or rosé to celebrate the return to living. The crickets will be deafening but it'll be the only sound until you add a little soft music to put you in the mood for an evening's merriment, conviviality and good eating.

It's a seductive way of life. Add in the sea and it's even better. Breakfast in a beach café, aperitif, supper, barbecue on the beach, or even just a bag of frites on the sea wall. Voici mon petit coin de paradis.


  1. Ohhhhhhhh, oui! Gettin lazier every minute - and just opened the shutters to have supper! But did paint...changed everything and did the seaside instead of the night!!!!!

    I love the roads and our village when they all dissappear I feel like King of the Castle!! Alos, as u always went shopping at the hotest minute of the day.....and therefore you always do have the whole supermarlet to yourself!!!!

    Also got a good swim in L & O's pool!!!

  2. Great post, Sarah. You remind me of my stay in Saint-Florent in northern Corsica during la canicule, the long hot summer heatwave of August 2003.

    It was 41C when we stepped onto the tarmac at Bastia airport, and it didn't seem to cool down for nearly the whole two weeks.

    The town apartment I had rented caught no breeze and there was just no way to cool down at all.

    It was miserable at the time, but as it's chucking it down in England today, the thought of long summer days beside the Med suddenly seem so much more appealing...

  3. Thanks, Roads. Sounds like oven heat, 41°C. Go outside and it's like putting your head inside an oven. Not much fun that.

    Sorry to hear about the rain. Again... hehe


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