Summers in France



We are spiralling far too quickly towards autumn. I don’t want summer to be over, not yet. If only I could press pause for a while.  The crowds are here, the tourists are here, and for once I am glad. So much of life here in the Charente Maritime is based on the tourism industry, and not just here but throughout the country. It’s been an horrific time for France of late, and I am so pleased to see the holidaymakers and tourists out enjoying all that this beautiful part of the world has to offer. There are cars from all over France here right now, along with the ever-present Dutch and a few British vehicles, a smattering of Swiss and German drivers and who knows how many other nationalities in other rented vehicles. They are filling up the hotels and guest houses, the gîtes and Chambre d’hotes.

I admit it may take a little longer to get anywhere, the roads are busy and traffic often crawls along, but for once I’m not bothered, it’s good. One learns to get up with the birds and be home with the shopping by 9.30am.

I tried in my mind to sum up summer in one simple word, but I failed; so I allowed myself one small phrase, but I failed again. It’s difficult. Summer means a mixture of so many things; fresh produce, eating outdoors, warmth, splashing from the pool, the beach, laughter, lazy days, barbecuing, sand and swallows. Summer days are magical, I wish they could go on forever, but then some of the magic would be lost, because it would become ordinary, an everyday occurrence.

For now though, the heat continues. You may have noticed I’ve been posting a little less frequently on the blog, on Facebook and Instagram; a little lazy perhaps, yes, and I apologise, but I am also quite sure you will understand – I want to enjoy these last few days of the holidays with the children before school starts at the end of next week and we get back into our daily routine.

Summer begins with endless fields of sunflowers, in May they are breaking ground, in July they are out in all their glory and by August they have turned to seed, waiting to be harvested.


Even if there are no crowds, it’s impossible to be in a hurry, there is just too much to stop and admire wherever we go. The vivid colours of nature against the cool Charentais stone always catch my eye.




In Rochefort, city life continues but with a nod towards summer as the population swells dramatically.




On the coast the beaches are awash with bronzed bodies, basking in the sun, playing games and swimming in the cool water


against a backdrop of carrelets, the fishing-huts particular to the area


as the day wears on and evening draws in the restaurants lining the shore start to fill up


while pétanque, a form of boules, is enjoyed in a shady spot throughout the day.


The sun sets late, in June and July not until well past 10pm. Now we are in August, it is a little earlier, but still around 9.45pm. It has to be one our favourite things to do; an evening on the beach followed by a picnic, leaving the cool soft sand long after dark.


Ice creams and summer go hand in hand

along with lazy walks at the end of the day



and there’s the distinctly French sound of shutters opening and closing, to keep the heat outside and the cold air away from the sun. Rarely is there any air-conditioning here, but with windows open and shutters keeping the sun at bay, the old stone walls keep the houses remarkably cool.


Then of course there are the impossibly blue skies



and summer flowers and insects




and games in the garden.


even our public transport screams “Summer”


although surely there can be no better way of getting from A to B than in an iconic Citreon 2CV, or  Deux Chevaux as it is known.


with hot days and warm evenings and no humidity, summer is all about dining outdoors, all the time


and summer is also all about fresh produce from the garden


which always includes a glut of tomatoes of every variety, best eaten whilst still warm from the sun.



IMG_6367 (1)

Work on farms continues late into the evening, the machinery might have changed and the large round bales of straw might be a relatively modern sight, but otherwise it’s a scene that hasn’t changed much for centuries.


Life in the country.


Summer in France

I am linking this post to the great blog Calypso in the Country and their Take me Away September link party

125 thoughts on “Summers in France

  1. Oh I could enjoy this sort of summer! I always find it far more enjoyable near the sea….the temperatures don’t quite scorch every living thing as they do further inland. My parents owned a house RIGHT on the beach in Gordon’s Bay where as children we would spend summer holidays. And later we visited them with our own children. A safe place for all the cousins to get on with their fun, unsupervised. Bliss. (My brother owns it now). That is the summer I could wish would never end….just as you do! Right now, I am loving our winter — it is beautifully green and not too cold ❤

    1. Do you mean Gordon’s Bay near Cape Town? I spent almost every Sunday there as a child, picnicking on the beach and getting the worst sunburns!

      1. Yes I did! The first beach was Main beach, then the rocky beaches along the Milkwood trees with lots of picnicking spots, then the beach in front of our house, then Pat’s Pool just before the naval college and then the famous one after the harbour, Bikini Beach. My mother used to put calamine lotion on our sunburn. Best memories!

          1. Nadia/Jeanne, it seems you are not the only ones who remember Gordon’s Bay. I have never been to SA so I cannot lay claim but one of my readers, Phil, posted a comment about it, I think maybe it was meant to be in reply to this thread. Also Roddy knows the area well too. Obviously somewhere I need to visit!

        1. Calamine Lotion, that brings back childhood memories, we used to have a pony who would always rub himself sore under trees in the summer, we would smother him in Calamine Lotion, I can picture the glass bottles now! X

      2. My mother once accidentally drank Calamine lotion in Salzburg (long story!) ended up with the Doctor having to phone the Poisons Bureau in London as they don’t have it in Austria!

        1. OMG, I can imagine that didn’t do her a lot of good, it must have tasted disgusting! Cannot even begin to imagine the story behind this! Did it make her really ill for a while?

    2. I would wish that summer would never end too Jeanne, it sounds like heaven. You are so right in it being a little cooler on the coast. We are only 15 minutes inland and yet it is always a degree hotter here than on the beach. Head an hour in land, where friends of ours live and the temperature is almost unbearable, and their winters are much colder too. I can’t imagine green! We have had no rain for months, one day since June! But still I am loving it! We went to the beach today, there was a wonderful cooling breeze, it was quite bearable despite being yet again over 35C. No doubt as we head into the depths of winter I shall be envying your summer! Susan x

      1. Our summer was particularly harsh with temps over 40 for nearly two months and, like you, scarcely a drop of rain….so I am anxious to have this “green” winter for as long as possible…maybe even a prolonged Spring (which is our most elusive season) before I’ll be ready for another summer! ❤ Jeanne

        1. It really has been such a strange year. We had the warmest winter on record, followed by the wettest and coolest Spring on record! Summer never seemed to arrive, June was so chilly. But since the end of June it has been one long heatwave. But I AM NOT complaining! I know we will be moaning about the rain and the winter before too long! I cannot even remember what a lawn looks like!!! I hope you have a real Spring. Susan x

  2. What a beautiful image of summer you have painted, your children are truly blessed to grow up in such an environment. Enjoy the last days of summer break

  3. You certainly made it sound perfect. I grew up living right on the beach and although I do not really care for the heat and sand anymore, I do miss the cool evenings and walking on the beach or just watching the waves. I am now going to have to take a 3 1/2 hour drive to the coast after having read your beautiful post.

    1. I am not keen on the sand either, it’s just one of those tedious things we have to put up with to enjoy the sea! It’s funny how children love it so much, such a perfect place to play and then around 14 or so they start to hate it, then you get to our age and we just simply accept it!!! But the sea is heaven, and I love walking along the beach as much as swimming. Anytime you want to make the trek come and stay, always a room waiting. Very very hot at the moment, which I suspect it is with you also. Topped 35C the past few days, each and every day. Susan x

  4. Is that the beach at Pontaillac, we spent a week in st George’s de Didonne and visited Royan and that beach last month! It seems too long ago already but was one of our best summer holidays ever, now we are back to wet cold Scotland!

    1. Hi Varsha, having lived in Florida for four years I can sympathise with the humidity, it was quite unbearable in summer. Here it is hotter on some days but with no humidity and so really quite pleasant and it makes eating outdoors great fun. Susan x

      1. Hi Jane, there are a couple of companies that do offer 2CV holidays and rental included. I think if you google it you would be able to find something. Let me know if you need help. Susan x

    1. Hi Lisa, the buses are all painted with such great summer scenes. The 2CV is a firm favourite of mine, I used to own one and I can’t wait to own one again! Just for summer trips to the beach!!! Susan x

  5. I have never been to France but I love everything French, thank you for a look at summer in your beautiful country. Toni

  6. What a lovely window on your summer …. I’m a four seasons girl …. Each with its own magic I have to have the contrasts to highlight the need to drink each in and appreciate it’s particular beauty. France gives me all of them including the rich bounty of summer from the bluest sky and gilding sun to a seemingly endless array of luscious produce and, in my village a feeling of stepping back to my own childhood as I watch the vacationers taking their R&R in almost naively simple style. No night clips X just the clack of pétanque balls, the sipping of pastis and the thought of a dîner dansant in the evening …. C’est la vie détendue 💖 xx

    1. I do like seasons and I know what it is like not having them form four years in Florida. Back then we dreamed of cold and seasons! I just never really want summer to end, or perhaps it is the school holidays that I don’t want to end, I quite simply love having all the children at home, it’s total chaos half the time, but I love it! I think the niaive summer holiday style is what makes it all so special, it’s so simple, in a world of bling and a world of instant gratification I find it terribly refreshing.xx

      1. And I agree with every word …. My summer has just got better with the arrival of my youngest fledgling. That I daydream of those lost summers with chaotic legions of various sizes of children rampaging and simply enjoying their freedom from the grindstone is no surprise to me because at the time, I never wanted it to end …. ☺️

        1. I can imagine you are loving every minute of it. The house never manages to get completely tidy, the washing machine is permanently in use, there is always washing flapping on the line, wet footprints across the kitchen floor, food, food and more food, bodies of our own children and their friends lingering everywhere – it’s fabulous. We just had a long leisurely night swim, the pool is 33C, lieing in the water gazing at the stars, all of us, all ages, just as it should be!

          1. Le petit canicule seems to have been all of July and August – what’s not to love! Loving every second of it. Are you back in France or in the UK? X

          2. Back in the US til mid October then UK and Far East for a month and finally back in France mid-November for 7 months. Hubby doing a sabbatical in Grenoble so we will be based there and tracking home to le Cantal whenever we can 💫💖💫

  7. I just found your blog reading your article in Flightime magazine. We were flying to Dublin and it made me want to head south to the Atlantic Islands you described. Now reading this I have next summer’s holiday planned! Thank you

    1. Hi Francesca, so glad you found me and glad you enjoyed the article, thank you! Great to have you following along. Hope you have a lovely time in Dublin, it’s a lovely fun city. France will still be waiting for you next summer! Susan x

  8. Gordon’s Bay – been there, swum there in another life, frolicked with a penguin once in that oh so cold water. A lifetime away, sigh

    Great photos Susan, as always – makes me want to step out the door and go down my beach, but the place is awash with day trippers and cor blimey hats. Alas, I am afraid I do not mind the end of summer – the locals here can at last use their beach again. But I see your point of view too. Enjoy the rest of August….

    1. I know that is always how locals feel, having been brought up on an Island that was jam packed with tourists in the summer, we used to love the days once they went home, when the roads returned to normal. But now, I see things from the other side too, tourism is good, tourists bring much needed revenue to a vast amount of people, I now see tourists as good, as essential and what’s more I enjoy them, I enjoy the buzz they bring to the area. Susan x

      1. Speaking off which two Cruise boats have docked today, so just over 5,000 people have landed in St Peter Port!!!!!

    1. I haven’t got to the stage of wanting Autumn to begin yet! Nowhere near there even. But I think of lot of this is because I don’t want the children to go back to school, it is so wonderful having them all home, along with all the chaos, the endless meals, the endless friends, the endless mess, but I wouldn’t change it at all! Susan x

  9. Newly french reader of your posts
    You describe well our busy lazy summer!
    I love so mich your portmerion table ware i started to collect them ,not easy to find in france !
    Keep enjoying french countrysidev

    1. Thank you and welcome to the blog Karine, lovely to have you following along and thank you for taking the time to comment. I love summer here, it’s busy in a very simple laid back way, that is what is so enchanting. The Portmerion we inherited from my husband’s family, I love it too! Enjoy the rest of the summer. I love living in your country, thank you. Susan x

  10. Beautiful series. I can understand taking time off. I struggle with that myself, wanting to both blog daily (which I do) and keep up with everyone else’s posts (which I try to do.) Your comment about the shutters reminds me of the daily use we made of them when my s-i-l and b-i-l lived near Avignon. I think my favorite shots are of the food and produce, though. 🙂 Is that first shot your house? It’s lovely, whatever it is.


    1. Thank you, I think a break from anything, be it work, a hobby, a sport, always does us good, we come back refreshed and invigorated. I love our fresh produce, it’s such a part of summer here, we wander down to the vegetable garden and feast on tomatoes and grapes straight from the vines! The first shot is the front of our house, thank you. Susan x

  11. Your photos and words paint such an idyllic picture of summer in France. I feel I would happily uproot myself again, just to experience such a pleasant summer. Love your hibiscus image against that brilliant blue of the sky, Susan. Your garden fresh produce looks so delectable, especially the tomatoes. Enjoy the rest of your halcyon days with your children before they return to school. What great memories you’re all making. xx

    1. Hi Syliva, thank you! Summer is beautiful and I do not miss, I have to admit, the humidity of the Floridian summer. Here it is hot, many days are hotter than Florida, we have topped 100F several times, but with virtually no humidity it is terribly pleasant and lovely to eat outdoors. One of the best parts is walking down to the vegetable garden and eating sun ripened tomatoes and grapes straight from the vines. We still have another week before school starts again and we are making the very most of it! Susan x

  12. You take such beautiful photos and we are so fortunate that you share your thoughts with us. Thank you for the brightness you bring to us all.

    1. Thank you Cathleen, I love sharing this great part of France and our lifestyle here, and thank you for taking the time to comment and I am so happy you are enjoying the blog. Susan x

    1. Hi Nancy, thank you so much, the tomatoes are fabulous this year. There is little better than wandering down to the vegetable garden and eating tomatoes warm from the sun straight from the vine and the grapes too, it’s a mini feast right there before we even get back to the house! As we use no chemicals we never wash anything, we just pick and eat, the children go down there for a snack if they are hungry! Xx

    1. Thanks Ali, let’s just hope the weather holds. It is so hot at the moment and so terribly dry. Nowhere looks it’s best any longer, it might be fabulous, but it’s tough on the plants. Susan x

  13. So, So Lovely. We are talking about a trip to France for next Summer…Thank you for posting…We are Now Going to Do More Than Talk about the Trip. 🙂

    1. Oh I am so pleased. There are so many wonderful areas to visit and so much to do, whether you want mountains or rivers, lakes or the coast, cities or country, there is much to choose from and certainly something to suit everyone. Happy Planning. Susan x

  14. Lovely summer photos and commentary to match. I did have a laugh when I saw the photo of the Citreon. It reminded me of a funny incident at the end of ferry crossing from the continent to UK. It was in the late 50s-early 60s and my family was returning to the UK. We were disembarking off the ferry in our own car at the same time as the Citreon. It was warm weather so windows were down. Of course, drivers had to adjust from European right lane driving to UK left lane driving. And the dockworkers unloading us were not impressed if you didn’t immediately ‘get it’. The Citreon driver was a tad too slow in figuring it out the lane change. The dockworker took one look at the Citreon (with its ridged-metal bonnet) and yelled at the driver to, “Get that garbage can on the proper side of the road, you moron!” (hmmm…that almost reminds me of TSA workers these days at US airports–some things never change:)). Nevertheless, since then, I have never been able to look at that type of Citreon without thinking about that line and having a smile. Thanks for the evoking the memory.

    1. Hi Mary, what a fabulous story, thank you. I hope the driver didn’t speak English and didn’t understand, what a great welcome into the UK! I have to admit I have been found guilty of driving once on the wrong side. In a car park, so not too serious, in the UK a few years ago. I couldn’t understand why people kept pointing at me and mouthing something and then I realised I was on totally the wrong side! Too many years driving on the right! Susan X

  15. Lovely post as always, when I retire I want to come and spend my summers in France, I would miss my family if I lived there all her round but I long to spend six months enjoying your perfect weather and your stunning scenery

  16. Thank you for such a beautiful and uplifting post. Really enjoyed reading and looking at your amazing photography, it made me feel as though I was there. We have just returned from a couple of weeks in Brittany and loved every minute of it. Enjoy the rest of the holidays with your lovely family. X

    1. Thank you Loraine, so glad you had a lovely fortnight in Brittany, another beautiful part of France, were you in the north of south? Hope you enjoy the rest of the summer too. Susan x

      1. Morning Susan, Thanks for your reply. Our house is in the center of Brittany, so when we are there and are not working, we visit the north and south, so are very lucky to be able to do this. This visit was the best weather we have had in thirteen years of going to our house and just made us not to want to return home but the weather in Suffolk has also been very good of late, so mustn’t we complain. Have a great weekend. X.

        1. It does indeed sound as if you have the best of both worlds. I love the north coast and all the pink granite cliffs and then I love the south and the beaches and the islands too. Once the summer finally got underway in late June it has been incredible, one long heatwave, but I am certainly not complaining it is fantastic! Hope the weather continues for you too in Suffolk and you have a great bank holiday weekend. X

    1. Hi Penny, summer is gorgeous here and the vegetable garden plays a very integral part, there is nothing better than wandering down the garden and eating tomatoes and grapes straight from the vines, the children go down there for a snack! Hope you sell and are able to move soon, fingers crossed. Susan x

  17. *sigh*
    I feel like I’ve just taken a short trip to France and basked in all her wonderful colours.
    Your photos are gorgeous and certainly help to create that illusion that we’ve been transported.
    The sunflowers, the beach umbrellas, but especially the table setting with daisies, wine, and salad. I’m there with you.
    Again – *sigh* … and my thanks 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, I love summer here, it is really a very simple lifestyle, there is nothing elaborate, but it is that very simplicity which makes it so special. Eating outdoors with fresh produce from the garden and taking the time just to sit and chatter and to savour the flavours is the best part for me. Susan x

        1. You are right, it is a way of life. It is an attitude, life is to be enjoyed, meals and time spent with the family are of prime importance, it is this which slows everything down and makes living here such a pleasure. X

  18. Despite the summer heat you definitely seem to have found a way to get out and are the most of it! I think it’s important that you take time off occasionally, it’ll only bring you back to use with fresh ideas which we will all love!

    1. Hi Lily, I do agree, I think a little time away from things, be it a sport, work, a hobby, does one the power of good and we return refreshed and reinvigorated. It is certainly very hot here, but we are loving every minute of it! Susan x

  19. Oh I would agree that a pause button for summer would be wonderful…especially summers in France. We always travel to Europe in the fall for cooler weather but your lovely photos make summertime very enticing.

      1. This October we are going to Austria and Germany. We are talking about a trip to France next year during the month of May but really haven’t made any plans yet. 🙂

        1. May is normally a beautiful time to visit, this year it was unusually chilly for us, but it was a strange winter and spring all round. Enjoy Austria and Germany, what fun. Our second youngest starts German at school this year, she is terribly excited, it is a country she has not been to and really wants to visit. X

  20. All was going swimmingly well until you posted the photo of the food, produce and tomatoes. I’m afraid I left you for a while as I went to hunt out a recipe for ratatouille. I just need to find some aubergines, slice and chop for a while and then I’ll come back and read the rest. 🙂

    1. Ha ha Simon! My absolute favourite food. I ate it for supper last night, freshly cooked within an hour of being picked, utterly delicious. We have a mixture of yellow and green courgettes in the garden and add both types for variety and of course some garlic and onions. I am making it almost daily, batch after batch for the freezer ready for winter. Susan x

  21. Temperatures and humidity are still very high, but I know we will be moaning about the chilly air in the not too distant future. Lovely post, merci.

    1. My thoughts exactly, scorchingly hot here, in the high 30’s every day, thankfully with no humidity so it is simply gorgeous. But I know before too long it will be chilly and the rain will be here and we will all be moaning about the weather!!! Susan xx

  22. Hi Susan, I’m so glad that France has not been adversely affected this summer. Life goes on and we savor the simple things. Enjoy the rest of summer and the sweetness of cool sand in the evening and birdsong in the morning. Warm hugs,

    1. Hi Pat, I am so happy to see so many people having fun and enjoying France. It has been a fantastic summer, enjoying every second of it we can. Last night we ate out in one of our favourite little villages near here, it was packed, people wandering through the narrow streets and just soaking up the warm night air, this is just as summer should be! Have a fabulous end to the week. Susan xx

    1. Thanks Amanda, It has been a very difficult year and that is why I am so happy to see the tourists here, so happy to see the streets packed and everyone having fun, if ever I get tetchy because I am sitting in traffic, a daily occurrence here as we are close to the coast, I remind myself that this year of all years it is a good thing. Xx

        1. Exactly, before we know it the villages will be like ghost towns again! Cannot deny it has been an incredible summer, this weather is fantastic, even if we should ask for rain, it is still gorgeous! Enjoy!xx

    1. It’s true everything is stunning, the light can be incredible, but I can also think of plenty of other stunning places in the world too! The sheer beauty of New Zealand for me is unmatched, but having said that I am quite content with the everyday beauty around me in France!!! Xx

  23. Lovely Susan! so evocative we could almost be there. I too wish summer would carry on for a while longer. It’s so much easier getting used to henkeeping in the warm dry days! Today it is beautiful. Blue skies and a soft feel to the warm sunshine. Early this morning it was really like a September morning – dew on the ground and a coolness to the air, but with the promise of a warm and beautiful day ahead. September is one of my favourite months and even October can be lovely, with crisp cool but sunny days and the joy of autumn colours. Let’s hope this year brings such an autumn. Meanwhile, on with work in the garden which will now have to involve tidying the borders, a sad but necessary task. But we still have some hard landscaping work to do before it gets too wet underfoot, so we must press on. Then it will be time for reflection and time to plan planting for next year, sitting round a cosy log burner with a hot coffee in my hand!! Enjoy your time with your children in this last week, posts can wait and will help to fill the empty house syndrome once they have gone back! What a gorgeous life you are giving them. Have a great week.

    1. Thanks Marian, we have been in a heatwave here since the end of June, no rain, our borders are a dry mess sadly. The well has meant the vegetable garden and tubs are looking good but everything else has suffered, the lawn is virtually non-existent, I think I have forgotten what green grass looks like! usually it stays warm here until early December, November is often very wet though. So glad you are enjoying your chickens, are they eating out of your hands yet and have you named them yet? Enjoy your gardening and the bank holiday weekend. Susan xx

  24. Summers are just…perfect.

    I am jealous of your still-late days – yesterday I walked Choppy as the sun rose and as it set. While that was beautiful, I’m going to miss the morning and evening walks with the sun as they end in the not-too-distant future!

    1. Hi Sheryl, my feelings entirely, I love Autumn, I love the smell of woodsmoke in the air and the changing colours, but I also simply adore summer days and lazy evenings, living outdoors, Windows permanently flung open! Have a very happy weekend, Susan x

    1. Fortunately we are fifteen minutes inland, so we don’t get that many tourists here, they tend to congregate at the coast, if we want to escape them altogether we head inland, the roads are quiet and we get the best of both worlds. But the tourists are good, I am pleased for France that they are here in large numbers. Enjoy these last few summer days. Susan x

  25. Your photos are beautiful! I feel the same way as you – I am sad to see summer ending. Even though I love fall and the change of seasons, summer has so much to offer with the long days and outdoor dining etc. Thanks so much for sharing your summers in France with us and thanks for joining my Take Me Away party!

    1. Hi Shelley, Autumn is beautiful, I love the warm fires and the changing seasons and the leaves etc., but I just adore summer! I love living outdoors and the children are all at home, it couldn’t be any better for me! Xx

    1. Thank you Pam, great to meet you, going over to your blog now, this is what I love about blogging, it’s a great community of like minded people. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  26. Ah, summer…I barely felt your presence early this morning when I let the dog outside. Crisp autumn mornings precede you and yet by late morning, you’ll return and be my friend for the day. Your photos made me feel guilty at some of the unwind thoughts I’ve had about summer wherein I didn’t stop to relish and savor it. That will be my mission today. Thank you for making me realize it. Lovely, just simply a lovely post. ღ

    1. Thank you so very much, a couple of nights ago there was a distinct autumnal chill in the air, when I took the children to school lasts Friday it was 58F at 8am. But now we are back to full on summer, this morning at 8am it was 70F. This evening it was still in the 90’s as we ate outside. I know it is on it’s last legs, I know I have to appreciate every last second, too soon it will be winter. xx

    1. Thanks so much, it is a beautiful country and sometimes it is fun to slow down a little and just appreciate everything around us. Have a wonderful week and thank you for taking the time to comment, always very much appreciated. Susan xx

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