07 February 2012

“A cold day...”

I got up at 6:45 and the first thing I did, of course, was to check the temperature outside: minus 9.5 degrees centigrade. Now it's 7:45 and I just checked again. The thermometer is still going down — minus 10.1 is the latest reading. That's 14ºF. It's the coldest morning so far. This cold snap started only a week ago, but it seems like a month. And we live in a relatively warm micro-climate for our region.

I know a lot of people live in places where it's a lot colder than 14 degrees F, but they don't live in the same kinds of houses we live in here in Saint-Aignan and across France. Our houses are built of stone or concrete blocks, with tile floors. There isn't much or any insulation in the walls, and the tile floors are freezing cold. (Our house in San Francisco, built of wood, wasn't insulated either, by the way. It too was cold when the temperature dropped, but then it was pretty much always cold in San Francisco.)

Snow-covered hedges, with sunshine

In our 1960s-vintage Saint-Aignan house there's a thin layer of fiberglass in the ceiling, but that's it. Otherwise, the air spaces in the concrete blocks of the walls provide the only protection against the cold. When we got the attic finished in 2010, we had walls built of plaster board put in up there, with a thick layer of insulation between the walls and the roof tiles. The loft is actually warmer than the main living space downstairs.

Yesterday's Boston baked beans with bacon

Besides the arctic cold, which is all the news in the French press and on French TV, what's going on here these days is the ramp-up to the upcoming presidential election, scheduled for April/May (with two rounds of voting). The incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, has not yet declared his candidacy, but he is clearly campaigning. And he has help from outside France. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is in France doing what looks like campaigning with and for Sarkozy.

Making tracks

Some say the situation is unprecedented. It makes me wonder what wag might have said that it would be “a cold day” when a German political leader would be the model and inspiration for a French presidential candidate, declared or not.


  1. It's absolutely arctic down here. 12 degrees in the house and -10 outside. Our house got an F on the energy report, poor thing. It's our poor 'appendage' of an outside toilet that is most cold though. I miss having an inside loo!

  2. Merkel. The Thatcher for a new generation

  3. -20.5 Centigrade here in Grand Pressigny... but 16 in the house... everything covered in hoar frost, but now twinkling in the sun. I have never seen this effect 'live', only in photos... which, once I've got the thermals on, is what I'll be doing... just making sure that the batteries are topped up as I get dressed.
    Keep warm folks! AND KEEP SAFE!!!

  4. Tim, I think it might not be as cold here as where you are because we are up on the heights rather than down in a low spot where the cold air settles. I heard on the weather report yesterday that it was minus 19 in Romorantin. Romo is frequently one of the coldest places in France. Be careful outside and do bundle up completely. At that temperature it is dangerous out there.

    H.P., ha ha ha...

  5. Holy cow, that's cold! Keep that boiler on!

    Your new header photo made for another beautiful "ohhhh" moment when I opened your blog today :)


  6. I'm with Judy, opening your blog and seeing the red top vines in the snow made me go "ah". It tells your winter story quite well. I'm glad you have a loft for warmer sleep during your frigid weather.

  7. Ken

    Romo could be like Montréal except that we are used to it. We watched the interview of SarkoMerkel last night and I wonder if this could be "néfaste" for Sarkozy - getting help from a foreign leader.
    Reminds me of this faked photo;

    Looks like Marine Le Pen is still short on the 500 signatures

  8. One danger is that Merkel will alienate (farther) the French left, and if Socialist candidate François Hollande does win in May, there might not be much chance of Franco-German cooperation for a while.

  9. Do you often feel you are viewing your "own" vineyard when you look out your windows? Without all the work, too! Wonderful perspective and as noted the red really perks up the picture and for a minute the frigid weather is forgotten.

    No insulation in the houses...amazing. Lucky you and Walt chose to add it when you did your remodel. Thermals are one way to keep warm and of course, you are keeping th insides warm with Boston Baked Beans (I can smell it from here!) and other comfort food (endive gratin - yummy!). Stay warm.

    Mary in OR

  10. " it was pretty much always cold in San Francisco." I was there in the middle of June one year and needed to wear a jacket.

  11. Were you able to get out of your driveway yesterday or did you stay at home?

  12. Stayed home, Ginny. No real need to go out so why risk it. It is so cold!

  13. Starman, June is relatively warm in SF compared to July and August.


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