Thirteen départements in the southeast were placed on orange heatwave alert (the second highest level) on Thursday afternoon (see map below).
Météo France warned on their website
that the highest temperatures on Thursday and Friday would be “close to the records set in July 2019” during the heatwave.
In the southwest of France, where the weather has been scorching hot and dry all week, temperatures were set to hit between 36C and 40C on Thursday, with local temperatures up to 41C.
Further northeast the weather will be nearly equally hot, with Méteo France predicting thermometers to show between 34C and 38C.
Temperatures in the Île-de-France greater Paris region would approach 40C, around 15C higher than the average temperatures of the season.
The hot weather has also seen pollution levels spike, so on Friday the Paris region has introduced pollution controls – only vehicles with CritAir strickers 0, 1 and 2 are allowed inside the city between 5.30am to 8pm.
Extra speed limits are also in place as well as discounted public transport offers.
How to cool down with the coronavirus?
But escaping the heat will be more difficult this years than previous years, with the coronavirus still circulating actively around the country.
On Wednesday evening, the national health agency called for the population to remain vigilant after 1,392 new cases were identified in 24 hours, the biggest increase in a month.
The jump in new cases continued a trend of a steady increase from previous weeks, which has seen experts warn about a potential second wave of infections.
To prevent further spread, health authorities told the French not to use public air conditioned rooms to cool down during the heat, and urged people to keep their protective face mask on outside in public even if it was hot – when social distancing was not possible.
“If you are in a street where you are not sure to keep a distance, I recommend wearing a mask,” Health Minister Olivier Véran told French media on Wednesday.
“When you are all alone in a public place or a park, it makes less sense,” he said.
The health ministry also has asked people to remember to drink a lot of water during the hot spell, avoid alcohol and to throw away their face mask as soon as it is exposed to humidity (a wet mask does not protect against the virus).
The picture below shows the national health advice for “cooling down safely during Covid-19.” Among the advice is ensuring that a fan has “good filters” and is not recycling air, and not using fans in enclosed spaces.
Source: French health ministry