Surviving Winter in the Aude

Baby it’s cold inside

It does get cold in the south of France

First, let me say that I’m not a fan of winter, at least not cold winter.  I’m not a fan of really hot summer weather either but that’s another story.  People assume that because I’m Canadian I have a tolerance for, even a love of, cold winter weather.  I lived in Toronto, it’s not exactly the frozen north. I wasn’t a fan of winter there either.

Wind chill of -13
My Canadian friends are just as bad.  When I say how cold it is here they say "that’s nothing, it’s minus a million here"  Maybe.  But I live in a partly renovated stone cottage with minimal insulation and no central heating.
Right now, at 8.30 am, it’s -5 with a wind chill factor of -13.  Until about 2 minutes ago the wind was howling outside.  I’m sitting at my desk looking like the Michelin man does Bob Cratchit, layer on layer of clothes, a scarf, and my fingerless gloves.  Very appealing look.

Heating the house

It’s a challenge heating the house.  Both levels are very open.  The only ‘room’ that can be closed off is the bathroom but I can’t spend all my time in there.

Because this was a worker’s cottage the ground floor was used for tool and equipment storage and the first floor was for living.  It means that the cheminee – the big traditional fireplace – is on the first floor.  It makes for a charming bedroom but it also means I have to carry wood upstairs.  My three week flu experience has left me with not a lot of energy and carry wood just doesn’t seem to be an option. and, one of my cats – who hates the cold too – peed in the fireplace so I can’t make a fire until I scrub. (I bought him a litter box yesterday)

So I use space heaters.  Other than a fan heater – I hate fan heaters – I think there’s a representative of every variety of space heater in the house.

Various space heaters

In the bathroom and the bedroom I have portable electric oil filled radiators.  Very effective in the bathroom but not so effective in the bedroom because of the high ceilings and open space.  I also have a mattress heater, it’s like a giant heating pad.

In the office I have a halogen heater. It looks like a rotating pillar fan and has a halogen tube that provides the heat.  I’m sure it uses far too much electricity but it is fairly effective. 

Downstairs, at the front of the house, I have a petrol -paraffin – heater.  It’s pretty good, only smells when you light it or extinguish it, but  the radius it heats diminishes as the temperature drops.

At the back, in the kitchen I have an electric convection heater.  Also fairly effective but the radius of heat also diminishes as the temperature drops.

Shutters and curtains

Downstairs I have shutters on the front door and window and curtains on both.  If it’s a sunny day I keep them open – trying for passive solar heat – until the sun leaves the front of the house.  On cloudy cold days I leave them closed and don’t spend any time downstairs because It’s so dark.

Today’s solution

It’s supposed to start warming up today and be 10 by Tuesday.  For today I’m going to go back to bed, warm up, and then maybe go to Spain for the day.  It’s supposed to be 10 in Figueres.

About Sam

Sam started Aude France as a companion site to her real estate site Aude France Property so that she could have a place to write about life in the Aude. Now that she's in Canada she writes about things that can affect owners and buyers in the Aude - or anything that strikes her fancy. On Pinterest you can find her by searching for Sam Mooney or clicking this link
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2 Responses to Surviving Winter in the Aude

  1. michele ebeling says:

    Hi..very much enjoyed reading your blog today..This was the very first time that i`ve ever seen a `blog`!!..I can across it whilst searching on the internet for information on the aude region.I`m looking to move down from northern france soon as i`m sick of the weather here (too cold and wet)..However,i was rather worried to read of the cold weather that you have there!..Can i ask roughly what part of the region that you live?..can you recoment a good town/city to look at? maybe even in the Herault?..The thought of moving from normandy to another area with weather problems scares me to death!!Thanks for any help..Michele

  2. Sam Mooney says:

    Hi Michelle

    I live in the Corbieres, about 25 km south east of Carcassonne. It's 9 am on Monday and it's sunny and about 5 degrees. The forecast is for 9 degrees.

    Normally inter is a lot gentler here than in the north of France. But it is winter and sometimes it's cold.

    The best thing to do is come for a couple of weeks and explore. It'll take you that long to see the Aude and the Herault and pick an area you like.

    It's a great place to live.

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