In Images: How drought has left its mark on much of France

In Images: How drought has left its mark on much of France
Photos: AFP
The heatwave may have passed but the drought persists in much of France. These alarming images illustrate why a record number of French départements currently have water restrictions.

Eighty-eight of France’s 95 metropolitan départéments are currently dealing with strict water restrictions after the hottest summer on record in many parts of l’Héxagone. 

Government agency Propluvia, which works closely with France’s Agriculture and Environment Department, published the results on Wednesday.

The départements coloured in red are where non-essential water usage for agriculture, green spaces, golf courses etc is currently prohibited. An incredible 50 départements have these limitations right now.

The départements in orange have considerable restrictions in place, the ones in yellow have moderate limitations and the grey ones are being encouraged to save water.

Among the départements that have been labelled by Propluvia as having a “water crisis”, are Creuse, Haute-Vienne and Indre in central France, Deux-Sevres slightly further west and Gers in the southwest.

But the drought’s damaging effects are visible across many other parts of the country: river banks have dried up, lakes have shrunk and crops, flora and fauna have perished.

The following photos offer insight into the most widespread drought in France in modern records. 

Horses attempt to graze in this dried up field in Bastelicaccia, southern Corsica. There are no water restrictions in place as there has been rainfall in the French Mediterranean island this summer, but areas to the east and far south have been badly hit by drought. 

Beziers, Hérault
A photo taken near the southern town of Beziers in Occitanie shows thousands of dead fish, killed by drought’s effects on the Orbs river.

Hérault departement has been given an orange alert, with reports that local olive production has dropped by 70 percent due to ‘la secheresse’ (drought in French).

This département in east central France is situated between the two rivers it gets its name from. But as Yannick Morey explains in this tweet, “Saone-et-Loire has been badly hit by the drought…at a time when the prairies should be green and the mushrooms should be growing fiercely, this is the image.


Bourges, Yèvre

Here are before and after images of the droughts effects on Val d’Auron lake in Bourges, a city in central France. 

The second image, taken from a drone video by YouTuber Patrick Brousse, shows just how badly the lake has dried up due to evaporation during the scorching summer months. 

Bourges town hall had to cancel paddle and sailing activities at the end of August as a result. Considerable water restrictions are in place across the département of Yèvre.


One of the “water crisis” départements of central France and the following images reflect why. The first photo shows a group of mussels stuck to the cracked up, dry land that was once under water. The second shows a cow struggling to graze near-barren land.

The situation is so serious in Creuse and neighbouring Correze that there are even restrictions on tap water. Local officials have given residents 16,000 bottles of mineral water to help them overcome the shortages.  


The Loire River has suffered greatly during this summer’s months of extreme heat.

In Montjean-sur-Loire, where this striking photo of a fish carcass on the dehydrated riverbed was taken, local residents are in shock having never seen anything like it.

Sandbanks occupy three quarters of the width of the Loire and the water level is well below the “zero” on the scale, fluctuating between -2m04 and -2m15. 

We end with this video by water management official Bertrand Gonthiez, a reminder of how easy it is for water to be wasted when it is needed most. 

Spécialiste de la gestion de l'#eau et de l'#environnement. Auteur aux Éditions #Eyrolles. Référent #LaREMA

A reminder of how easy it is for water to be wasted. 



Maine-et-Loire, western France

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.