Holidaymakers in France warned about driving as heatwave alerts extended

Holidaymakers in France were warned on Thursday about taking to the roads during the sweltering conditions that has seen heatwave alerts issued in 66 departments with the hot weather set to remain until early next week.

Holidaymakers in France warned about driving as heatwave alerts extended

On Thursday weather agency Météo France extended the ongoing heatwave alerts to 66 departments across the country (see map below).

There were already 34 departments on alert on Wednesday evening but the extension of the weather warnings to the centre and south west of the country means most of France is now officially sweltering under a heatwave.

Temperatures in most places are hovering around the mid 30s but the mercury reached as high as 40C in Nimes on Wednesday and in the Rhône Valley the thermometre will consistently reach the high 30s over the coming days.

The public are warned to avoid being outside at the hottest times of day and to drink plenty of water, even when not thirsty.

The warnings are likely to remain in place throughout the weekend with only Brittany, Normandy and the far north of the country spared the worst of the heat.

French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn had a special word of warning for drivers, tens of thousands of whom will take to the roads this weekend to either return from holiday or head off on their summer vacation, an event in France known as the chassé croisé des vacances or holiday crossover.

Thousands of drivers from the UK are also due to head over the Channel and will hope to avoid the disruption last weekend when the heatwave caused delays to Eurotunnel services.

Buzyn urged holidaymakers not to travel during the hottest times of day.

“People have to think about children and I'm worried about the holiday crossover traffic, which will mainly occur in the Rhone-Alpes region, which has been severely impacted by the heat wave,” said Buzyn.

The busy A6 motorway, known as the Autoroute du Soleil (Sun motorway) heads through the Rhône valley from Paris and Lyon to the beaches of the south coast.

“It is imperative to drive earlier in the morning or late at night, avoid periods of extreme heat, protect children, take enough water in cars and stop regularly,” she advised.


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South west France on red alert for flooding

Five areas in south west France have been placed on a red weather alert for flooding as storms lash the region.

South west France on red alert for flooding
Storms are moving in to south west France over the Pyrenees. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Météo France has placed five départements in south west France – Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège – on a red weather alert for heavy rains and flooding.

Extremely heavy rainstorms have hit the area, with a band of storm clouds travelling along the Pyrenees, bringing the risk of avalanches in the mountains and flooding in lowland areas.

The neighbouring département of Pyrénées-Orientale is on orange alert, along with the principality of Andorra. In the north, Aisne is also on orange alert for heavy rain.

Heavy rain is expected to continue throughout Monday, gradually easing off towards the evening, although the flood alerts remain in place until Tuesday.