France’s heatwave subsides as violent thunderstorms cause train chaos

France’s met office has removed heatwave alerts in all but nine departments but the sky-high temperatures were replaced by strong winds and violent thunderstorms on Tuesday, causing train disruption in the north of the country.

France's heatwave subsides as violent thunderstorms cause train chaos
Photo: AFP

Some 1,500 travellers waited several hours to board their trains at Caen, Lisieux and Evreux stations after heavy thunderstorms caused disruption on the rail lines on Tuesday afternoon.

The bad weather also caused havoc at Paris Saint-Lazare.

“Trees have fallen on the lines causing power outages between Lisieux (Calvados) and Bernay (Eure),” said SNCF Normandy.

In total, a dozen trains were left stranded at the stations in Caen, Lisieux and Paris Saint-Lazare.

Up to 700 people were left waiting in Lisieux, 500 in Evreux and 300 in Caen, AFP told the SNCF.

Two main lines were affected: Rouen-Paris and Paris-Caen-Cherbourg.

In the Paris-Caen direction, the clearing of the tracks is expected to take longer. “Our teams will continue to work all night to cut the other tree blocking the Paris-Caen line,” SNCF wrote.


As a result of the ongoing bad weather, SNCF provided either alternative transport in taxis for delayed passengers or took them to their accommodation at the hotel for the night.

Train schedules remained “severely” disrupted on Wednesday morning, according to SNCF’s TER Normandy branch.

Meteo France still has nine departments in France on orange alert for high temperatures on Wednesday. Photo: Meteo France

These thunderstorms across much of France signified the end of the heatwave for most of l’Héxagone, with an average temperature drop of 10C and even 15C expected on Wednesday and Thursday, down from the unbearable high thirties and low forties.

Strong winds, heavy rainfall and hail struck several regions of France on the night of Tuesday 7 to Wednesday 8 August, the most affected areas being Normandy and Amiens.

Similar bad weather is expected throughout Wednesday from Normandy to Ile-de-France and then back to to the north and east.

Storms are also expected in the afternoon and evening in Midi-Pyrenees and the Massif Central area and at night in Burgundy,Champagne-Ardenne and in the west of Lorraine.

The weather will remain stormy until early Thursday morning from the south-west to the north-east of the country, with showers forecast.

France's sudden change towards stormy weather is best evidenced by this video published by The Huffington Post, showing Lac d'Annecy close to the Swiss border turning into a huge wave pool as a violent storm approaches.

This other video shows beachgoers quickly leaving Ouistreham beach in Normandy as strong gusts of wind blow up the sand when a thunderstorm nears.


Firefighters were also called 36 times in the northwestern department of Calvados on Tuesday to deal with floods in home cellars and electrical cables being cut on roads.

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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.