Monday, August 28, 2017

the classic French air conditioning system

We are currently in our third day (of likely four days) of exceptional heat (known in France as a canicule).  Most of the homes here do not have air conditioning (although many restaurants and larger stores do) because it is generally not really needed most of the time.  (Although this may be changing as the climate changes.)

This photo shows how the heat is managed when you don't have air conditioning (this is not our house). If it's not too hot, I open the shutters and windows and let the air flow in.  Often there is a breeze that helps. Augmenting with room fans also helps.  If the sun shines directly into the window, I pull the white curtains to block it.

But on days like today, when it's really hot (note that would be around 30 C / 90 F), I start in the morning by watching the indoor vs outdoor temperatures.  When the outside temperature starts to exceed that of the indoor, I close the windows to hold the indoor temperature steady.  If the sun shines directly into a window, I close the shutters as well.  Our house like many here are made of very thick walls of stone and concrete; ours are 45 cm / 18 inches thick.  These help to keep the excessive heat out and stabilize the temperature inside to a more average one.

Fortunately, these canicules don't happen very often and we normally leave the windows and shutters open all day for much of the year.


  1. Stuart, tu as la bonne façon de faire dans nos maisons de pierres avec les volets. Aujourd'hui nous sommes revenus de l'est de la Belgique avec l'air conditionné dans la voiture. Ce que normalement nous mettons en fonction seulement quand nous sommes en Espagne!

  2. Good shot!

    We're used to heat waves here, but this summer hasn't really seen one.

  3. Ce que normalement nous mettons en fonction seulement quand nous sommes en Espagne!