Fan fan

Open shutters let the breezes through
Open shutters let the breezes through

Growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s in the southern US meant that we experienced some hot summers without air conditioning. Schools didn’t have it, so it was a good thing that summer vacation extended from June 1 to September 1, and private homes certainly didn’t. Once my brother and I were old enough to mow lawns for other people, guess what was the first thing we both bought for our bedrooms: window air conditioners. What a glorious summer that was!

A lot of the online research we did about Carcassonne before moving here dealt with the climate. Having lived in the northeast US with its snow and the southeast with its heat, we were looking for something closer to the Los Angeles weather we knew without the air pollution. We’d read that this part of France benefits from 300 days of sunshine each year which brought to mind “no snow” but for someone who hasn’t lived a day outside a chilled room since a mid-1960s summer, it also meant “we must have air conditioning”.

That line of reasoning helped to tip the scales of why we chose this rental house for our first year in France. It has everything else we were looking for including a great location, a bath and a half plus some outdoor space and what we considered to be a requirement: air conditioning. Now, we’re starting to reconsider. In fact, the house we bought, like all of our neighbors’ houses, has only big windows that you open to the almost-constant breezes that easily cool all the rooms. Granted, we’ve only been here through one summer, but everyone we talk with who has lived here for years says exactly the same thing: you don’t need it.

Thick walls = no air conditioning required
Thick walls = no air conditioning required

So what do you do when the breezes stop? Good, old-fashioned fans. Bill grew up with a whole-house fan, located in the attic, that pulled the cooler evening air through, up, and out of the house. We have only a couple of fans on a stand but with exterior walls over 2 feet (61 centimeters) thick, and shutters to close out the direct sunshine, it just doesn’t get too warm inside and once you open all the windows, the heat is gone immediately. Here’s hoping that this winter those same massive walls will keep the heat from the radiators inside as well as they’ve kept it out this summer!

4 thoughts on “Fan fan

  1. For me, one of the joys of living in France is not having A/C, which is both an energy gobbler and bad for the environment. I spent 30 years in Asia where air conditioning is a necessity to survive the heat and high humidity. Like Bill, I grew up with an attic fan and would love to have one here. I’m looking into it. My house is fairly new and doesn’t have thick walls, so I’ve compensated by installing exterior electric blinds on the west-facing windows. They keep out the intense afternoon sun in summer and help keep the house cooler. And I use good old electric fans when needed. And the humidity is fairly low here, which also helps.

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    1. There are very few mosquitoes and a few flies but the new (old) house has wonderful breezes and we have screens for the windows and bed if the insects start to be a bother.


  2. Another question answered! I was sure I would need AC, but I guess as long as I select the right part of France, that won’t be an issue – and what a relief to learn you have screens!

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