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.
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