How to survive a Summer Heatwave

Having lived in the South of France for over 15 years and am at last getting the hang of how to survive when a heatwave (fr canicule) comes along and you have no pool.  It has been over 40 degrees for the past week and prior to that it has been in the late 30’s for a month.  The challenge to remain sane is strong.  I am working this summer without a break, however even on holiday one needs help.  Below are some tips as to how to cope:

Early mornings:  This is the only time of day it is cool.  I rise at about 6.30am and for the next couple of hours I remain outside in the garden enjoying the sensation of the cool morning air on my skin.  If it is market day I leap on my scooter and head off to town for supplies.  Oh the joy of feeling the cool air rushing past me as I bolt into town.  Need to be home by 9.30am though.

Next up is to close the shutters and windows on the east side of the house as the sun starts to push it’s heat into my kitchen.  It’s bizarre plunging the kitchen into total darkness but this really helps.  With both shutters and windows closed NO heat gets into the kitchen.  Eating is tricky, the appetite goes and the stove and oven are out of the question. I have just discovered the best ready made cold Gazpacho soup imaginable by Alvalle.  I practically drink it straight from the carton all day long.

The same procedure is done with the windows on the other side of the house once the sun starts beating in.  Thank goodness for a very old giant Murier tree I have in the garden which shades much of the house.  Frequent cold showers are a must, wet hair and all.  I have noticed that, before the cold water has cooled me down, by the time it reaches my feet it is hot!  I don’t dry off and redress damp in the lightest cotton flimsy dress I can find.   For the rest of the day outside is out of bounds. If I get desperate for the lack of air inside I head off to the supermaket for blissful couple of hours in full air conditioning – heaven, taking particular time in the freezer department.  The other alternative is a siesta, which by this time I feel I thoroughly deserve.  I take this in the guest room so I dont have to think about the tossing and turning of the night before and the bed is peacefully undisturbed.

It is not until 8pm that I can begin to open up the doors and windows.  It’s still a furnace outside but I now know it will only going to get cooler.  At about 1am I feel the first tinge of coolness on my skin.  What a relief – I feel normal for a while.  I water the pot plants while it is cool, I would give them a heart attack if I did it during the day.  I then decide to face bed. This is where linen sheets really make a difference.  I dont know why but they just feel cooler.  I toss and turn, bash my head with my lavender pillow and eventually pass out to the sounds of cat fights on the roof tops in my hamlet.  You see even the heat is gets to the them.

P.S.  I hope you have noticed how the ice images cool you down, it really works!  Any tips from you welcome.  Thanks