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WEATHER

Cool rooms, pools and water fountains – Paris activates emergency heat plan

As the temperatures climb and health warnings are issued for Paris and the surrounding areas, the city has activated its emergency plan for heatwaves.

Cool rooms, pools and water fountains - Paris activates emergency heat plan
Photo: AFP

With temperatures predicted to climb to 42C on Thursday, we look at what measures the city of Paris is taking to make its citizens more comfortable.

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Cool rooms

Public spaces such as town halls and government offices will open up air conditioned rooms to people who need them. There will be 50 air conditioned spaces open every day from 2pm to 6pm, and elderly or infirm people can request to be driven to their nearest cool room. To find out more about your nearest room, there is a dedicated number to call – 3975.

There will also be cool spaces in public areas, with Gare de Lyon, Beaugrenelle and Opéra piloting 'islands of freshness' which involve benches in shady spots and misters spraying cool water vapour into the air.

Water

Paris has plenty of drinking water fountains and actual fountains where people can either have a drink or stay under the spray to cool off. An app – Extrema Paris – will allow you to look up where your nearest water station is. In total the app lists 922 places that are either cool, shady or have free water available.

If a fountain isn't enough, you could always go swimming, many pools are staying open until 10.30pm all week and from July 1st the free open air pool at the Bassin de la Vilette will be open.

 

Parks

When the streets of Paris are baking, the natural response is to head to the park. To ensure people have a cool space for as long as possible, many parks will be staying open 24/7. Thirteen parks will be staying open all night over the summer, plus an extra five just for the days of the heatwave. 

The 13 gardens opened at night during the summer are Louis XIII (4th arrondissement), Grand Explorateurs (6th), Boucicaut (7th), Villemin (10th) on Friday and Saturday, Emile Cohl (12th), Georges Meliès (12th), Louis Armstrong (13th), Montsouris (14th), Sainte Périne (16th), Louise Michel (18th) Friday and Saturday, Buttes Chaumont (19th), Séverine (20th), Aurélie Salel (20th). The 5 additional parks and gardens opened during the heat wave are: Monceau (8th arrondissement), Marcel Pagnol (8th), Montholon (9th), Ferdinand Brunot (14th), Brassens (15th).
 
Children and the elderly
 
The heat affects everyone, but people particularly prone to suffering heat-related health complications are children, the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions. During the heatwave of 2003, 15,000 people died of heat-related conditions, the majority of them elderly.
 
City authorities will be distributing fans and awnings to schools and nurseries, plus extra bottle and jugs so that the children can have access to water at all times.
 
The city also has an index of people deemed vulnerable to heat, mostly the elderly or ill, and they will be receiving messages advising them on ways to stay cool and what services are on offer. They may request to be driven to their nearest cool room by city authorities.
 
Also at risk are the homeless – the Paris water authority has donated 5,000 bottles of water which will be distributed by local volunteers. The homeless shelter at Porte de la Chapelle will extend its opening times to make it 24/7, and can offer showers for up to 400 people a day to cool off.
 
There is more heat safety advice available at www.sante.gouv.fr.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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