It gets hot in the south of France. Summer days can soar into the 90s or even 100 Fahrenheit; that's in the 30s Celsius.
And like most people in France, we don't have air conditioning. We get only a few moments of smugness as we consider that we aren't harming the environment, before the sweat wipes away that do-gooding feeling.
So how do we stay cool in the summer? It's about 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23 C) inside our thick- walled house, but that's only because we have learned how to keep it cool.
Usually, we throw open the shutters on our windows in the morning to embrace the sun,
|The sun peaks over the mountains in the morning.
but in summer, I prop the wooden shutters open like a tent rather than opening them fully.
|The muted light filters in and the air can circulate
Sometimes I close the windows as well. At night, I do the opposite, I throw the shutters open, allowing the light from nearby street lights to fill the bedroom as the cool air filters through our lace curtains.
|The sun peeping through the guest bedroom window
The most important thing is to protect the indoors from the strong sunshine. We also keep the fans running -- overhead fans in the bedrooms and office. Standing floor fans in the downstairs rooms.
Even with our shutter method, the upstairs is decidedly warmer than the downstairs by evening, but once the sun goes down, the shutters are opened and I place a fan in front of the window to suck in the cooler air.
At night, the temperature has been dropping down to 16 or 17 Celsius, in the 60s Fahrenheit. That gives the house a chance to cool off before the next day's heat assault.
Once you get used to it, it doesn't seem so hard to live without air conditioning. After all, we've already adapted to only run the dishwasher and the washing machine at night when the electricity prices are lower.