THIS is the time of year when the shutters are closed early and opened late as the winter weather begins to take a grip upon the French countryside.
I've always though that it is at this time of year when you really see if you like the place where you are living as many villages go into a quiet slumber for a few months.
Of course there is usually a burst of activity around Christmas, and every Sunday when la chasse go tumbling through the fields, but days can prove long and very quiet.
But what about the more psychological problems and challenges you might face? Well an interesting piece has been written by Jon Doust for the Daily Telegraph, where he writes about his experiences of living deep in the Vendée countryside.
He enjoys the quiet and solitude, it gives him a chance to take the dog on long walks, but he realised that something might be amiss when the highlight of one evening was going to a different supermarket.
So rather than going to my usual supermarket, E.Leclerc, I thought I’d add some variety to my life and go to Hyper U instead.
Somewhat disturbingly, as I pulled into the car-park I felt a little frisson of anticipation at thought of the novel selection of goods I would be viewing that evening.
There is no doubt that some villages can be very quiet, but that's why I think one of the most important things to do when heading to France is to bring your hobbies and interests with you - for me it was my football boots and shin pads.
It is also possible to make connections through the internet, in the past I have written about Yahoo! Groups in France, as well as the many forums out on the web and actual get-togethers organised by people.
Then again dark winter nights were something the French peasants of the past didn't really mind, as author Graham Robb writes about in a comment piece, where he tells of how in the Alps a corpse would be stored on the roof under a blanket of snow until the spring thaw came - when a grave could then be prepared.
What are your own tips for surviving a French winter? Please feel free to leave a comment below.