I’m fascinated by volets in France, what we Americans call “shutters.” In the States they are stationary, ornamental additions to houses. In France you can actually open and close the shutters.
I love getting up in the morning and throwing open the volets. (Forgive my romantic imagery.) It’s like a statement that says, good morning, I’m ready to start my day.
Besides the fact that I find them charming, volets in France are practical.
Today it’s raining and the infamous “mistral” (wind storm) has arrived. Mon amour quickly closed the volets. You see, in France you can actually close the shutters, you know, like in the movie “Gone with the Wind.” The shutters keep the rain from beating against the windows and keep the wind from breaking them.
Shutters also keep out the cold air. When you don’t have double-paned glass, as in most of these old French homes, shutters serve as insulation. I’ve been grateful for our volets on many a cold and windy day.
Probably my favorite practical use of the volets is to keep out the sun. Every night before we go to bed we close the shutters. In the morning I can sleep in the darkness until I’m ready to get up. Of course, sometimes I sleep later than I should; but on weekends I love sleeping in and not having the morning sun tell me it’s time to get up.
In summer the volets keep out the sun and heat. I love a sunny home with lots of windows, but again, in an old French home with no central air conditioning, the volets offer a welcome reprieve from the hot sun that beats down in summer in the South of France.
So if you decide to spend your holiday in the South of France, make good use of the volets. You can sleep in, and then throw open the volets when you’re ready to greet the day.