IN PICTURES: How the French are staying cool as mercury rises

As the country continues to heat up, the French have been finding ways to take the edge off the heatwave. Here's a look at how - in pictures.

IN PICTURES: How the French are staying cool as mercury rises
Feeling too hot in Aix-en-Provence? It's time to seek out the 'Umbrella Sky Project'. Photo: AFP

Temperatures in France are expected to reach a record-breaking high of a scorching 45C on Friday, leading to more school closures and traffic restrictions.

Many local authorities around the country have advised parents to keep their children at home and thousands of schools around the country were closed on Friday. 
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Friday morning that a total of 4,000 schools in France would be closed on Friday due to the extreme heat. 
Here's a look at how the French are cooling off in the extreme temperatures. 

In Paris, people weren't hesitating to make the most of any water they could find, including Canal Saint-Martin.

A young man dives into the waters of the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris. Photo: AFP

And some tourists took the opportunity to dip their feet into the fountain next to the Louvre pyramid. 

Photo: AFP

Meanwhile others sought out what little shade they could. 

A couple sheltering under an umbrella next to the Louvre in Paris. Photo: AFP

But for some tourists in Aix-en-Provence, one umbrella just wasn't going to cut it. 

The “Umbrella Sky Project” installation by Portuguese artist Patricia Cunha. Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

And who needs a beach when you have the Loire River?

People bathing in the Loire River in Tours. Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

… or even water jets in the city centre?

Children cool off under water jets in a fountain during the heatwave in Montpellier, southern France. Photo: AFP

It's not just humans who need to cool off in the heat. Here's an image of a jaguar taking a refreshing dip at the Bordeaux-Pessac Zoo in Pessac, southwestern France.

Photo: AFP

People were also making the most of the canals in the north eastern French city of Reims. 

Photo: AFP

And if all else fails, why not get involved with some “streetpooling”? To anyone who isn't aware, this is the word the French use to describe turning on fire hydrants – and it may get you into a spot of bother with the French authorities.  



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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.