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Shutters: Oh so French!

Jo Anne Wilson, Letters From FranceEarly morning. As I open the shutters, I think about how important the shutters are here in Provence. In summer, they shut out the heat of the sun. In winter they close in the heat of the wood stove or other source. In fact, the act of opening and closing the shutters marks the start of a new day … or the ending of one.

I never know exactly what I’ll see when I open the shutters … hills shrouded by mist or hills bathed in early morning light. This morning, a wall of fog and mist greets me.

Once they are open, there are exterior latches to ensure that shutters stay firmly open … otherwise there’s a risk that the Mistral will catch them and set them banging against the walls or wagging back and forth.

Shutters come in various colors, but mostly shades of blue, blue green, or natural wood. In some villages, there’s a code that dictates what color the shutters may be painted.  It’s part of the building code that must be adhered to.

Traveling through a town or village at night, you’d almost think the place was deserted. You get an eerie feeling when all the shutters are closed — where are all the people who live here?

Shutters also provide security. Sadly, this area of Provence suffers from frequent break-ins. Many of the houses are vacation homes and make good targets for thieves. Home insurance policies are very clear about having shutters closed and locked during any length of absence.

Security aside, there’s really nothing any more typically provençal, than shutters. Think of the many images you’ve seen of Provence. I’m betting that after fields of lavender in bloom, the most frequent picture will be of a window or a door … with shutters.

  • GenePH

    Jo Anne, that is an excellent analysis and commentary. You beautifully describe the art of living in that particular environment and the ritual of opening up and closing for the day.

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