WELCOME TO EDITION 837 of GRAPEVINE
When travelling, I neglect the website.
But post on Instagram and Facebook daily, and weekdays, on China’s Xiao Hong Shu or Little Red Book (translated for me by our Business & Marketing Manager YU Kayan).
I apologise for the neglect.
When travelling on assignment, the schedule is relentless.
Driving and darting from one chateau/winery to another, tasting/asking questions/jotting down the answers, and changing accommodation practically every day.
France – like Singapore – was sweltering under a heat wave last week.
Temperatures inched across 30° Celsius in many parts of the country.
Here in Lorgues in the south (an hour north-west of Nice), it was 35° Celsius on Saturday. This is unseasonal for May when normally, the average day time temperature for the country should be around 18° Celsius.
Plants, vines, and other forms of agriculture have been under stress. So too people I may add. We all need water. Fortunately, next week, rain and cloudy skies are forecast for Lorgues, Bordeaux, Paris and most of the country.
In recent memory, the hottest France got to was in August 2003.
That year, for two consecutive weeks, the mercury shot to as high as 44° Celsius!
More than 15,000 Died
What was even more shocking was the 2003 heat wave killed more than 15,000 people, mostly the elderly, mainly living by themselves.
As a result, France went into soul searching because the middle-aged children of the elderly who died were mostly enjoying their traditional, annual summer holidays.
The following year in 2004, France drew up the “National Heat Wave Plan”.
Today, the plan includes careful forecasting by the national meteorological body which is then widely diffused to the public and officialdom so they can prepare for unusually hot weather. There are four levels of preparedness with special attention paid to between 1 June and 15 September. If needed, the prime minister can activate “maximum mobilization” which will involve local pharmacies and mayors.
The highest level of preparedness is “Red Alert”.
The French population will then be reminded to drink at least a litre of water a day, to eat normally and to avoid any outdoor exercise. School outings and sporting events will be cancelled. Exams may also be postponed.
Government departments and companies will be encouraged to allow people to work from home. Homes for the elderly have also to provide a “cool room” for residents, either air-conditioned or shaded and north-facing.
Wishing you A Very Cool Week Ahead!