p1060468If you follow French news, you’ve probably heard we have a cold snap across the Hexagone. It hasn’t been this cold in five years.

The photo above was taken yesterday. Early-morning temperatures had plunged to minus 7 Celsius (19 degrees Fahrenheit), but by mid-afternoon, they were around 4 C (39 F), with a brilliant blue sky and tons of sun. Perfect for drying laundry on the line.

Not hygge at all.

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January roses: Not hygge.
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More flowers. Not hygge, either.

Hygge is the global rage at the moment: the Danish concept of coziness, cuddling, candles and close friends that is credited with making the Danes the world’s happiest people.

Aside from comfort food with loved ones–de rigueur for the French–the south of France is un-hygge. Everything is geared toward good weather, not winter. The steep slope of some driveways around here made me realize that the residents knew nothing of driving out on ice or of shoveling knee-deep snow.

I wonder whether I’m the only one around here who used to drive from October to April with a snow shovel and a bag of sand in my trunk (sand to improve traction and also to sprinkle under the tires, should I get stuck and find them spinning).

We get a few flakes here almost every winter, but they  rarely survive 24 hours. Should we miss the snow, we need to drive only two and a half or three hours to the Pyrénées ski stations, or even Andorra. In my opinion, that’s the perfect distance for snow.

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Fountain sprays in January: Hygge? Nope.

I knew I was in the right place when I saw Carcassonne in winter. Bubbling fountains. Flowers in gardens. Café terraces bustling in the dead of winter. Hygge is having your coffee inside, with candles or a fireplace. Sipping your coffee in the sun at a table on the terrace, even though it’s chilly, and watching the people pass, is not hygge at all.

The brightest, sunniest days bring the coldest nights. It’s a small price to pay. Though the architecture-geared-toward-good-weather, paired with the two-foot-thick stone walls in older houses, means pipes often get run outside buildings, and when it does get really cold, like five years ago, they rupture left and right. In fact, at our kid’s school in the village, and now at upper grades in Carcassonne, the restrooms are outside. Not pleasant but further proof that it just doesn’t get very cold.

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Poolside palms. Hygge fail.

Meanwhile, it’s been fun watching the Carcassonnais going about their business as if they suddenly were in Siberia (which is where this cold front is said to have originated, always mentioned darkly on the weather report. No love lost for Russia in this country). Bundled to the max–emmitouflé–which, I guess is pretty hygge after all.

 

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24 thoughts on “Hygge? Non, Merci

  1. Hygge, I have been hearing this worde a lot on the blogs that I follow, we are defo not Hygee here in Northern France where the temperature yesterday did not get any higher than -2 all day, we are certainly using the warming fuel this week and the forcast is for some flurries of snow in a few days, bring it on we are ready for it.

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  2. Here in Esperaza we are that little bit closer to the mountains and it’s definitely hibernating weather!! We had a burst pipe in the laundry yesterday, our neighbours had one in their garden and another lady I know in the village also had one!! -9 C at 10am is pretty cold for us Aussies 🙂

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    1. Ha! I have to agree. But maybe it’s because of the weather? After all, the French are pros at cozy dinners of comfort food among friends and family, which is totally hygge. But then those sidewalk cafés are not hygge at all.

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  3. I must be living under a rock as this is my first encounter with the dreaded ‘hygge’. That said, I love the concept of cozy in the cold. Living in the Haute Savoie, where we get cold and gloomy in the shadow of the alps, lighting candles gets me through the dark months.

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    1. The mountains are all about hygge. It is a lovely concept–coziness and all–but it’s kind of like this year’s Marie Kondo–too much. We are close to the mountains but far enough that this morning we sat at a table outside and had a café at the market. That is not hygge one bit.

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  4. I agree with Mr. Merveilleux, I’m fed up with hearing about this hygge nonsense. If I want to wrap up, drink hot chocolate sit in front of the fire and light a candle, I will. I’ve been doing it all my life and I don’t need a new word to tell me about it. More sunshine and roses please!

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  5. I have practiced hygge my entire life. I love to be home, cosy, comfy and spending time with family and friends. I prefer Fall and winter to summer but as I age some years that changes.

    The weather all over has been a little off this year. We are having a mild winter this year, the temps are higher than normal but we had a huge snowfall a few weeks ago which is unusual as we typically get that in February.

    Have a great week and stay warm.

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  6. Ha Ha, small world–here in southern California we also prefer our winter sun and palms to Danish hibernation hygge, even when it gets cold. And while we are also seeing more snow than usual in our mountains, I do prefer cold ankles and coffee in the sun.

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