France set for record-high September temperatures as summer returns

Several parts of France will see temperatures climb above the 35C-mark on Monday with the country set for a period of "exceptionally hot" weather. A sign of things to come, say climate specialists.

France set for record-high September temperatures as summer returns
Photo: AFP/Météo France

Monday will be the hottest of what is set to be a sunny and warm week, with unusually high temperatures for the season.

“Monday and Tuesday afternoons will be exceptionally hot for the season. To put it in context 34C to 36C is (depending on the location) 10 to 15 degrees above the average for mid-September,” wrote Météo France in a tweet.


Thermometers across the country were set to hit the 30C-mark on Monday, but the southwest of the country would see the highest temperatures with 37C forecast for Bordeaux and 36C for Poitiers.

But in general the weather will be hot and sunny all over the country on both Monday and Tuesday, with the mercury in Paris and Lyon set to rise to 35C on Monday.

That means the capital could break a record set back in 1947, when it saw its highest temperature ever recorded in mid-September of 33.2C.

Some climate specialists say this week's high temperatures are a sign of things to come and the French will have to get used to heatwaves in September.

“This type of heat spike in September is a perfect example of what could await us between now and 2050. Heatwaves will not only be more and more frequent, intense and long, but they should also be earlier and sometimes later,” climatologist Francois Vimeux told Le Parisien newspaper.

Nantes and Lyon could see temperatures of 34C on Monday, while Marseille will be slightly cooler with Météo France predicting 32C for the southern port-city.

READ ALSO: Eat sufficient meals and shut the shutters – French government advice for staying cool in a heatwave

From Tuesday, Météo France said temperatures would cool down in the west of the country, with downpours predicted in some areas, but the weather agency said the hot weather would remain “until the middle of the week across a big part of the east and northeast of the country.”

Thermometers will linger around the 30C-mark on Wednesday in most parts of the country, except for in the northwest, which will see cooler temperatures of 21C-23C in some areas.

For maps with details on the local temperatures predicted for each day, go to their website.

France has struggled with sweltering heat all summer, with several  heatwaves causing drought across the country.

Many areas still placed on the environment ministry's crisis list and could be subject to water restrictions (see map below).


Map: Propluvia Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire

To find out what the restrictions are where you live, click here.

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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.