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HEATWAVE

Paris opens parks 24h a day so locals can cool off

Authorities in Paris are to open parks at night to allow the the capital's residents to cool off, while one MP has proposed a new law allowing workers to go home when the mercury hits 35C.

Paris opens parks 24h a day so locals can cool off
Photo: AFP

Poor Parisians have been suffering under scorching temperatures in recent days but officials have moved to ease their pain.

On Friday the Town Hall in Paris announced it had agreed to keep open five large parks from Friday to Monday after France's Green party pushed for the move.

City residents can head to the parks Buttes-Chaumont, Martin-Luther-King, Montsouris, André Citroën, and Monceau to cool off at night after being pummelled by the heat wave.
 
“It's very good news,” David Belliard, a French Green party councillor, told Le Parisien newspaper. 
 
“This is a very simple measure, with a very reasonable cost compared to the benefits. You just have to look at the number of impromptu picnics throughout the capital, to realize that Parisians like to linger outside at night, especially during heat waves,” he added.
 
In addition to the five parks, 127 other smaller parks and gardens are already kept open round the clock, giving residents plenty of choice to pick a spot to cool off.
 
But for some city dwellers a park open at night is not enough.
 
Some brave or foolhardy locals, depending on your point of view, have found a more radical way to stave off the heat – by jumping into the city's canals.
 
Their new spot for an outdoor swim appears to be, the Bassin De La Villette, which links the Canal St Martin and Canal de l'Ourcq.
 
The video below from Le Bonbon website shows bathers plunging into the water from the bridge and leisurely drinking a beer or two in inflated floats.
 
 
 
“All day, my colleagues tried to dissuade me from doing this, saying it was disgusting,” said 22-year-old Gaelle with a smile as she prepared to dive into the water. 
 
She shrugged off suggestions about the pollution. “This is not much more polluted than the sea.”
 
Although swimming in such places is prohibited by the city, the ban did little to stop residents desperate to cool off. 
 
Still others have turned to legislation to give residents some respite from the heat.
 
Leftist French MP Jean-Jacques Candelier proposed to put in place “a right to leave” work once the mercury passes 35C.
 
His proposal, which will gain undoubted public support, is set to be debated in Parliament next week. 

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WEATHER

Sweltering France posts traffic jam record

France saw a record level of traffic jams on Saturday, with cars stuck in gridlock on roasting roads spanning 820 kilometres during the country's heatwave.

Sweltering France posts traffic jam record
A picture taken on August 8, 2020 near the toll gate of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines shows cars stuck in traffic jam on the A10 highway: Martin BUREAU / AFP

France's traffic authorities said the peak was reached just after noon, easily beating both last Saturday's record of 760 kilometres (470 miles) and the previous record of 762 kilometres set on August 3 of last year.

The country has been sweltering through a heatwave since Thursday, with temperatures pushing towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in several areas.

In the southwest, Brive-la-Gaillarde broke its record with 40.8C on Friday, as did Cognac with 39.8C, while Nantes in the west posted a new record of 39.6C.

No relief is expected until Wednesday, with the soaring temperatures compounding the pressure as the country's coronavirus outbreak worsens, the number of daily infections hitting 2,288 on Friday.

Authorities reminded sweltering citizens that masks must continue to be worn where they have been mandated, despite the heat.

Roland and Helene, retirees in suburban Paris, said they go out in the morning “to get some fresh air,” but then spend the rest of the day hiding in their apartment. “We fear the heat a lot,” Helene said.

French weather forecaster Météo France on Friday upgraded the orange weather warning to red for northern parts of the country as temperatures reached 37C. The red warning means a potential danger to life or health.

Placed on a red warning were Paris and the départements of Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-d'Oise, Val-de-Marne and Yvelines.

The départements of Eure and Seine-Maritime in Normandy were also put on red alert.

Last year was France's hottest on record, and the Meteo France weather agency has warned that global warming could double the number of heatwaves by 2050.

 

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