For members


Here’s France’s official advice on how to stay chilled during the heatwave

As France's second heatwave of the summer gears up - with temperatures of 46 predicted for later in the week - the government is issuing advice on staying safe and cool.

Here's France's official advice on how to stay chilled during the heatwave
Photo: AFP

In total 59 départements – roughly two thirds of France – are on orange alert for heat, which is officially defined by Météo France as temperatures that can be harmful to health. So what should you be aware of and how can you stay cool?

The main danger during this week is sunstroke and dehydration and those classed as particularly vulnerable are children, the elderly and people with long term health conditions. People who work outside in physically demanding roles can also be at risk during periods of extreme heat.


The Ministry of Health has begun broadcasting warnings on TV and radio urging people to stay hydrated, avoid getting overheated and check on elderly or isolated neighbours.

During the June heatwave, health minister Agnès Buzyn expressed her exasperation with people who were jogging in the hottest part of the day.

 She said: “I'm worried about people who are downplaying this, who are continuing to exercise as usual or stay out in the sun.

“This affects all of us, nobody is a superman when it comes to dealing with the extreme heat.”

So apart from avoiding noon marathons, what should you do?

Drink water
It might sound obvious, but be sure to drink plenty of water – even when you're not thirsty. It's recommended that you drink at least somewhere between 1.5 and 2 litres per day. 
And to avoid dehydration stay off the alcohol, yes that even includes rosé wine with ice in it. Eat plenty of fresh fruit.
Stay inside
Try and avoid going outside between the hours of 11 am and 9 pm. If you have to, then be sure to wear light clothes, preferably cotton or linen as it lets your skin breathe. It's not a bad idea to take a parasol.
Shut the shutters or blinds
On the home front, keep the blinds closed throughout the hottest hours of the day. If you have shutters, keep them closed during the day. It may seem counter intuitive to keep everything closed, but one of the main reasons that French homes have shutters is to keep you cool in the summer. (The other is to keep you warm in the winter)
When the temperature drops in the evening, open the windows and doors to get some fresh air in there.  
Douse yourself in water
Cold showers or a swim are great, but there are plenty of other ways to cool down. Filling a bucket with water for your feet or placing a wet or damp towel on your head and shoulders can make a big difference. The French are keen on facial misting sprays, which are sold in most supermarkets and pharmacies.
If you're in a city feel free to use fountains or water features to cool down, unlike in Italy where tourists have been prosecuted for jumping into fountains, in France authorities will turn a blind eye if it's hot.
Get rid of the extra heat
If you're at home, turn off the big lights, only use your laptop if you have to, and eat cold meals rather than using the oven. 
Limit your physical activity
As the health minister says, it's best to knock off major physical exertion during the hot weather and even going outside to do the gardening is unadvised. Getting up to refill your pitcher of iced lemonade is OK.

Be aware of the risks
You might be in peak physical form, but not everyone else is. Remember that children under the age of four and the elderly are the most at risk when the heat strikes. If you have elderly or unwell neighbours, be sure to check on them. If you're in Paris, the city authorities are running a scheme where vulnerable people can be transported to 'cool rooms' in the city.
Stay in the coolest parts of the house
Be sure to find the coolest part of the house and make sure that's the area you stay in. If your place has no air-conditioning, nor an electric fan, then you're advised to head somewhere like a cinema or a shopping centre that has air conditioning or just a cool building like a church.
Be careful what you drink
Tea, coffee, and alcohol all act as diuretics, meaning it will leave you dehydrated. Stick to water. And on the plus side, this means you won't have to turn the kettle on either!

Don't forget your furry friends
Your pets also suffer from intense heat, so make sure you think of them too. Be sure to keep an eye on them, give them plenty of water, and the occasional cool bath. 
Recognise symptoms of heat-related illnesses
If you or someone close to you is complaining of cramps, headaches, dizziness, or has a fever of over 38C, this is a clear sign they're suffering from the heat. Keep the person cool and call emergency services for help.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.