How do the French keep their houses cool?

After a few cooler days the mercury is set to rise again prompting us all to reach for our fans and exclaim that ‘we like it hot, but not this hot’.

But how do people living in countries that enjoy consistently long. hot summers manage to keep cool and keep their homes so deliciously cool?

Here, our Social Media expert Wendy, who lives in the South of France, lets us into some ‘cool’ secrets from across the Channel.

French (Spanish, Italian, Greek) villages often look deserted at mid-day. Shutters shut, nobody about…. There is a good reason for this!

In the UK, to keep cool in the heat of the summer we have a tendency to fling open all the windows and doors and let in the cool air as soon as we jump out of bed, keeping the windows open all day long.

This is a big mistake!  The moment the sun is up you need to be thinking about shutting everything up. As soon as it’s warmer outdoors than in, close the windows, blinds and curtains, only opening them up again in the evening once the outside temperature begins to drop.

Use an indoor and outdoor thermometer so you can keep an eye on the temperature. If you allow the warm outdoor air into your home all day, by late afternoon it’ll be considerably warmer indoors than outdoors and very difficult to cool down again.

Closing the blinds will stop the sun blazing through the windows and heating up the room even more (think greenhouse!). White or light colour blinds and curtains will reflect the sun helping to the room to keep cool.

If there’s a nice breeze early morning or late evening, open a window or door on each side of your house so you create a good draft. Drawing the air through the house will move all that warm stuffy air out and bring fresh air in to replace the warmth.

If the idea of opening your windows in the evening sets off alarm bells about flying insects and bugs, buy a plug in mosquito machine with a liquid bottle attached. These work amazingly well even with the windows open.  Do always check the label to make sure they’re safe to use around children and babies first.  Keep the lights off if you can to avoid attracting the bugs in through the windows.

If you have an indoor fan, don’t just aim it at yourself or into the centre of the room. In the morning or evening when you have the windows open, try angling the fan so it points out of the window blowing the warm air from indoors outwards, forcing the cool air in.

What to do with hot little ones?

Dress baby in a body vest over their nappy. It’s better than them being naked as the sweat is taken away from their skin and actually makes them feel cooler.

Pop teddy in the freezer in a zip lock bag when they are not looking…  Just for a moment of coolness.

Older children could have a hot water bottle filled with ice cold water, wrapped in a towel in bed to keep cool.

A bowl of ice or frozen bottle of water placed in front of the fan in a bedroom (not pointing directly at baby) will make a cooler breeze.

Aerosols of mineral water are handy for cooling down but they can be expensive. Get a refillable spray bottle, fill it up with cold water and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to go out and about and you’ve got a handy spritz for a blast of cool when you need it.

Keeping babies hydrated is important and if you need to buy bottled water, check the label for a baby’s bottle icon to ensure a suitable mineral content.  You’ll find this blog useful.

If you can’t stay in the pool all day, why not pop your little one in a safe, shady spot in the garden with a washing up bowl and some plastic cups to play with – add a few bubbles and let the splashing commence.  Let them go nappy free for a bit too! And of course, always supervise your little one around water.

Make the most of cooler mornings and save naps for the afternoon. The sun burns strongest between 11am and 3pm but you’ll find around 5pm is the hottest part of the day. If you want to go for a stroll with the buggy remember that the pavements and roads radiate the heat back on you making it even hotter. So make trips out in the cool of the morning rather than the heat of the afternoon.

Finally, a cool shower or splash in the tub before bedtime is a must for bringing the body temperature down before getting into bed. If you’re on holiday a pre-bedtime splash in the pool is always a great idea too!

Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson is the Social Media Manager at Tots to Travel, Mum of 2, lover of France & Greece, talented knitter and loves any kind of crafting with her girls.

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