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Many people dream of moving to the south of France, envisioning bright blue skies, plenty of sunshine, and long days at the beach. And that is, in part, the reality of living here. But if you’re considering a move, or if you have already taken the plunge, you should know that there will be winter. There will be ugly days of wind, cold temperatures, cloudy skies, and rain.

Winters here in Montpellier are mild, relatively speaking, but they are still winters. And the short days and long nights of January and February can sometimes feel overwhelming, even though we feel lucky to be living here. Here are some ways my husband Phil and I fend off the winter doldrums.

Getting outside

I often have to force myself to do it, but I’m always glad when I do—even in yucky weather.

Seeing friends

While it’s tempting to just stay in, we’re always happy when we join friends for coffee, a glass of wine, or just a chat.

Happy times with friends (bonus points for pets! And chili!)

Taking advantage of beautiful days

There are many great winter days in Montpellier! Just this morning a brilliant blue sky greeted me. We’ll definitely get out and enjoy it.

The view from our apartment this morning

Indulging in hobbies

Phil is an artist, and he’s never happier than when he’s in his studio (a tiny corner of our guest room), listening to music and painting landscapes.

Phil’s painting this week, from a visit to Dijon

Completing projects

Most of us have projects we need to complete—closet cleanouts, picture hanging, renovations, or even winter baking. And we always feel good when we’ve accomplished something!

Partner project: Phil hung the shelves and I arranged them!

Being cozy

My friend Patricia is a world champion at this. Staying home, reading one of her 50,000 books, and sipping something for the win!


Patricia’s living room, the epitome of coziness

Cooking something comforting

I love to cook, so this is a no-brainer for me. But even those who don’t like cooking can make soup! With a warm baguette from the corner boulangerie, and perhaps a glass of Languedoc wine, you will feel so much better!

Croques Monsieurs = comfort food!

Making a call

A phone chat with a friend or family member can be a two-fer: you both get a boost, especially in midwinter.

Starting something new

Many of us make new year’s resolutions, but we don’t always stick to them. What about simply trying out something you’ve not done before? For me, it’s chair yoga.

10. Counting the days. Whether it’s a trip, a dinner party you’re hosting (or attending), or simply a countdown to the first day of spring, it’s fun to look forward to something. Phil and I are looking forward to our first visit to Marseille. We adore train trips and are eager to try the bouillabaisse, explore the port, and discover the Cosquer Méditerannée!

Winter happiness—on a train!

What are you doing to fight off the winter blahs?

Sandra Shroyer

In early 2022, Sandy Shroyer retired from her professional career. Her jobs have included cooking for hired ranch hands, serving as a community mental health center staff psychologist, performing various leadership roles in healthcare firms, managing a lot of highly successful sales executives, and selling technology and services to health systems and health plans. The best part of her career was people—those who became lifelong friends, those who irritated her into learning important lessons, and those who taught her things through their kindness and genius. Her superpower is connecting people, whether it’s professional networking, introducing friends who become friends with each other, or just figuring out who might like to know someone she knows. She tried never to miss an opportunity to have fun at work. Sandy and her husband traveled full-time in the United States during the pandemic, and they are spending their retirement in Montpellier, France.

All articles by: Sandra Shroyer

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