France in our motorhome

How to stay cool in a motorhome during a heatwave

It’s the busiest holiday weekend of the summer in France and most people are heading south or to the Atlantic coast. Not us! We are driving from Bordeaux in the west of France to Lake Geneva in the east. The plan is to take several days over it. The forecasted heatwave has arrived and it’s still 36C at 8pm which poses the question of how to stay cool in a motorhome.

This is the warmest weather we have experienced since buying our motorhome. The plan was always to try and go to destinations where the weather averaged the mid 20’s Centigrade and so far that plan has worked, until now!

Trying to keep cool in a motorhome

If you read the motorhome forums on Facebook the question of how to stay cool in a motorhome is often asked. Our first rule is to never go to places where you are guaranteed to get very hot weather. At the moment Europe is in the middle of a heatwave and temperatures in Spain are 45C+. Spain is great for us in the winter but not in summer because it’s too hot.

We have just driven from the French Atlantic coast where temperatures were 29C during the day and 18C at night with a cooling sea breeze. Sleeping in 18C is not a problem but sleeping in 26C is another matter, which is what was forecast for that area at night.

We don’t have an air conditioning system so we have to rely on natural ventilation to reduce the temperature. All our skylights are open and usually there is a breeze and the temperatures at night are lower but they can still be uncomfortable if the outside temperature is high.

Our motorhome with insulation on the windscreen

An external silver screen for the motorhome windscreen is a must. We have used ours in the winter when we were in Spain and during a heatwave in France. Try to park in the shade and, of course, open all the motorhome skylights. Put a damp flannel in the fridge and use it in the night to cool down. Get a 12v fan to circulate the air. Our rule is to go where it’s cooler in the summer and that’s why we are heading for the mountains.

I can’t offer magical solutions to keeping cool in a motorhome but if anybody reading this has any great ideas please leave a comment below.

Our alarm went off in the night!

Every night we set our motorhome security alarm. The alarm is set so that we can move around inside but if any of the doors or garage doors are opened the alarm sounds. I have often wondered what I would do if the alarm goes off whilst we were sleeping. I was about to find out! It was 12.30am and we were staying the night in an Aire in the small sleepy village of Lezoux. There were 2 other motorhomes and suddenly we were woken with the sound of a vehicle alarm. My first thought was is that our alarm or someone elses but within seconds I realised it was ours. I reached for the alarm fob and switched it off. We both listened and heard nobody running away. Was this a false alarm or had someone attempted to break in? We have had no false alarms in the past so it could be real. A quick look through the roof turret (skylight) revealed it was pitch black and there was no sign of anybody outside. If I wanted to be sure there was no break in I had to go outside so I found a torch and hesitantly ventured outside to check the garage doors. It was a false alarm. There was no sign of a break in and nobody around. All I could see was the amazing clear night sky and millions of stars!

All the way across France

We had started near Bordeaux and used the A89 motorway to drive past Lyon towards Geneva as we wanted to spend some time in The French Alps. The A89 is a very scenic drive across some amazing scenery. The road reaches a height of 1,000 metres as it crosses the Massif Central and you see mountains, gorges and a stunning plateau. Incredible bridges and tunnels make the A89 a spectacular drive.

Perigeaux cathedral

Perigeaux is an attractive medieval town in The Dordogne. It has charming narrow streets, a historical cathedral and a large number of restaurants, shops and cafes. The Aire in Perigeaux costs €6.55 and it is an easy 10 minute walk along the river to the town centre. We were very impressed with Perigeaux and would go back.

The mother of all thunderstorms

Having hardly seen any rain in the last 12 months it was a shock to the system when a huge thunderstorm struck the area on the evening of 5 August. Parked on a very good free Aire in the village of Chanay in the Rhone Valley a massive thunderstorm lasting several hours cleared the air. Gale force winds, torrential rain and hailstones was acually a facinating sight although I was slightly worried at one stage that there might be damage to our motorhome such was the ferocity of the hailstones. Before the giant thunderstorm the temperature was a hot 35C but after the storm the temperature had dropped to a pleasant 22C. Perhaps that’s a way to stay cool in a motorhome – head for the thunderstorms!

Guide to living in a motorhome fulltime

Thanks to all my readers! Wow, my last blog about how to live in a motorhome fulltime, which you can read here, has been viewed over 3,000 times in only a few days. That’s incredible. The post generated masses of positive comments on Facebook with many people saying they are going to do the same in the future. It’s clearly a lifestyle that interests many people.

Alleyway in Perigeaux, France

Morning after the storm. Parked on the Aire at Chanay. Only room for 4 motorhomes.

Driving through a tunnel near Lyon.

Here is a short video of the massive thunderstorm we had. I’m listening to the Leeds vs Stoke game on headphones, which is why I’m looking so uninterested!

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2 Comments
  • 7th August 2018 at 1:07 am

    It’s hot in Oz too! We have a UK-manufactured AutoTrail which has been modified for the market with full aircon, which makes such a difference! We still rely on a 12v fan if we’re not on power though – not sure there’s a miracle cure! Your idea of heading for cooler spots sounds sensible!

    • 7th August 2018 at 6:37 am

      We spend a lot of nights on small quiet Aires when in France with no electric. Will be in the mountains today so hopefully a lot cooler. You are right…no miracle cure!

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