Thursday, June 27, 2019

Summer in France, keeping cool in a canicule

French Village Diaries keeping cool in a canicule, summer in France
Precautions to take in extreme heat

Summer in France

Extreme weather

It was only two weeks ago when I was talking about rain, hurricane strength winds and seemingly no signs of summer (see here)

A week ago, 144km north of us Mother Nature rocked us with an earthquake that measured 4.9 and that we felt as it rumbled through the ground for a few seconds. It has been reported as the (or one of the) biggest earthquakes in France for many years. 
French Village Diaries keeping cool in a canicule, summer in France
Canicule alert  via
This week the sun has arrived, the clouds have parted, but we have gone from one extreme to another and are now on canicule, or heat wave, alert, something France takes very seriously and is rather unusual for the month of June.

In August 2003 over 15,000 people died in France when a canicule hit with temperatures consistently higher than 35º for the first two weeks of the month, and often topping 40º. This was before we moved here, but in our time, we have occasionally hit the high 30º’s and it is exhausting. Most communes will now be putting into place their canicule plan of action. Information will be sent out on sensible precautions to take in the heat and lists will be drawn up to ensure those who are at most risk of heat stroke can be kept an eye on; those over 65, those with medical issues, people living alone, young children and pregnant women. Neighbours are actively encouraged to look out for each other and call the emergency services if they are concerned. Please do not underestimate the risk of extreme temperatures.

French Village Diaries keeping cool in a canicule, summer in France
Canicule weather 35º

Early yesterday afternoon the temperature was 33º, with a hollyhock-shaking warm breeze and the hottest it got up to was 35º at 18h, thankfully a little cooler than the forecast of 38º. Today it may top 40º. Poor Adrian is in the UK, his commute on Tuesday was in the pouring rain and on Wednesday the temperature only managed a weak 18º with grey skies and wind. It doesn’t seem fair!
French Village Diaries keeping cool in a canicule, summer in France
Refreshing cool water with mint, fennel and cucumber

Keeping cool in a canicule

My top tips for surviving a heat wave:
Do drink plenty of water. I find a jug of tap water kept in the fridge with a few mint leaves, some fennel fronds and slices of cucumber, sipped regularly, to be most refreshing
Don’t over indulge on the alcohol
Don’t forget to keep animal water bowls topped up, indoors and outside

Don't forget to eat - as if......

Do keep the shutters closed to keep the house as cool as possible
Do wear sun cream whenever outside
Don’t stay outside too long

Do utilise the energy of the sun and get as much heavy washing done and dry as possible
Don’t waste energy on other household duties

Do get up early when the temperature is a bit cooler
Don’t forget to pop back to bed for an afternoon siesta when it’s hot in the afternoon

Don’t expend energy unnecessarily 
Do spend your time reading, and as luck would have it, today is publication day for three fantastic new summer reads: 

Summer at the Little French Café by Karen Clarke (book two in her trilogy set on the Ile de Ré and that I will be reviewing here tomorrow). 

Death in Avignon by Serena Kent (the latest adventure set in Provence starring Penelope Kite and that I will be reviewing on Saturday). 

Date with Poisson by Julia Chapman (her latest cozy mystery set in Bruncliffe, Yorkshire where the temperatures are a lot cooler!).

Lou Messugo


  1. Excellent advice, Jacquie ... as well as refreshing reads!

  2. I remember the 2003 heatwave, we were camping in Italy and very undprepared. Now we get one every year, but this year's speciality is that it's so early. And you're right, it's exhausting especially when you have to carry on working in unairconditioned spaces in appropriate "office" attire like my husband, who also has to commute in unairconditioned trains!At least my work scrubbing gites and writing can be done in a swimming costume with intermittent dips in the pool. Thanks for linking ot #AllAboutFrance

  3. Great tips for hot, summer weather anywhere. I'm going to try your mint-cucumber-fennel water. #ALLAboutFrance

  4. Excellent advice especially as temperatures are set to soar again this week. In the last canicule we hit 36°C in the shade and that was in Normandy! #AllAboutFrance


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