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WEATHER

Heatwave: 6 of the coolest places in France

From caves to catacombes, lakes to France's coldest village - if you're not a fan of the heat, here are 6 places you can go to stay cool this summer.

Heatwave: 6 of the coolest places in France
Photo by MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP

With another heatwave approaching, you might be wondering how you can still have fun while avoiding the heat. Here are some places to visit that promise not to be too sweltering:

Go to the beach in Brittany or Normandy

France’s west coast is notorious for getting lots of rain throughout the year, but it is also known for moderate summers that don’t get too hot.

If you are looking for windy shorelines and temperate climates, Brittany and Normandy have the best beaches for you. In Brittany, temperatures in the summer typically stay around 25C.

Go surfing off of Brittany’s largest island Belle-Île-en-Mer or sunbathe in Saint-Malo. For Normandy, consider Le Touquet in the Pas-de-Calais département – escape the heat by walking along the cliffs at the nearby Parc naturel régional des caps et marais d’Opale.

Go hiking in the Alps

The Alps are not just for winter sports.

Well-connected by train, you can easily take a trip to the mountains to enjoy the cooler temperatures, mountain breezes and lovely views filled with colourful wildflowers.

As well as hiking, you can also enjoy rafting or biking. If you’re not as sporty, you can still enjoy the mountaintop by taking the year-round ski lift up the mountain.

The pretty town of Chamonix is also well worth a visit.

Visit the prehistoric caves in Dordogne

Down in southern France temperatures do get hotter in the summer, but there are still plenty of cool options for the scorching days.

Dordogne is home to several prehistoric caves, which in summer are a great place to escape the heat. You can also see the reconstruction of the original Lascaux cave, known for its cave art and referred to as the ‘sistine chapel of prehistory’ with some of the earliest known artworks created by humanity. 

In the Vézére Valley several of the caves have made the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. 

Caves in general are a good bet on a hot day – if you go to the Roquefort caves in Ariège it’s nice and cool and you can witness the famous Roquefort cheese maturing in the natural cave system. 

Visit France’s ‘coolest’ village

Famous for having the coldest recorded temperature in France, Mouthe is located in the Doubs département, which is in Eastern France along the Jura mountains.

The reason Mouthe stays so cold is because of its altitude – it is at 930m above sea level. That makes for some bracing winters, but it’s also a great place to visit during a heatwave.

Enjoy the village, go hiking in the surrounding countryside, or take a day trip into Switzerland which is just over the border.

READ MORE: Why is Mouthe the ‘coldest village in France’?

Float on the lake in Annecy

Known as the “Venice of the Alps,” Annecy is located in the mountains, so it also has a higher elevation, which helps keep it comparatively cooler in the summer months.

Annecy is mostly known for its sparkling blue lake that is clean enough to swim in – the water typically stays at around 22 to 24C – but it also has a highly picturesque town centre and the local vin jaune is worth sampling.

Visit the kingdom of the dead

If you’re in Paris and don’t have the time or the funds for a trip out of the city, there are still cooler places to go.

The city’s museums are often air conditioned while the churches offer cool indoor spaces, but for something a little different why not visit the Catacombes?

The temperature in the network of limestone passages underneath Paris stays at around 14C all year round – considerably cooler than the city in summer. There’s also the ‘chills’ imparted by the inhabitants of the Catacombes – thousands of skeletons dug up from the city’s cemeteries and arranged into interesting patterns.

The Catacombes also provide a fascinating snapshot of the history of Paris.

READ MORE: Are these the 10 best swimming pools in Paris?

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WILDFIRES

More evacuated as forest fire reignites in southern France

A forest fire in France's southern Aveyron region has reignited, sparking the evacuation of 1,000 more people and burning a total of 1,260 hectares, local authorities said Sunday.

More evacuated as forest fire reignites in southern France

France has been buffeted this summer by a historic drought as well as a series of heatwaves and several forest fires, notably in the southwest.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: French drought intensifies as River Loire dries up

The Aveyron fire, which has been raging since Monday, appeared to be under control and dying out on Saturday afternoon when it suddenly reignited in a “virulent” manner, gobbling up 500 more hectares (1,235 acres), the prefecture said.

At least 1,000 people were evacuated from the village of Mostuejols near the city of Millau and six nearby hamlets, it said.

Some 3,000 people had been evacuated because of the fire, but were allowed back when it appeared under control. No casualties have been reported so far from the blaze.

A local man was under investigation for accidentally starting the fire when a metal part of his trailer touched the road, sending off sparks that ignited the dried vegetation.

In eastern France, police said on Saturday they were banning entry to most forests in the Bas-Rhin region near the German border, in order to limit the risk of fires igniting.

Austrian firefighters help to extinguish a fire in a forest of South Gironde

Austrian firefighters help to extinguish a fire in a forest in South Gironde, near Belin-Beliet on August 13, 2022. (Photo by Thibaud MORITZ / AFP)

In the southwestern Gironde region around Bordeaux, another fire which flared on Tuesday was under control after rain fell overnight, a senior official said.

READ ALSO: Thunderstorms expected around contained French wildfire

The situation “considerably improved during the night,” Arnaud Mendousse, of Gironde fire and rescue, said.

He said there had been between 10 and 30 mm of rain in the region but on “terrain that is extremely dry”.

“We know that this offers a respite but does not signify an end to the fight. We know that if it does not rain in the next 48 to 72 hours, the risk will increase considerably.”

Mendousse said the humidity level has gone up and the temperature was relatively low at around 25 degrees Celsius, (77 Fahrenheit) adding: “The fire is not completely out and the soil remains extremely hot”.

EU members including Germany, Poland, Austria and Romania have pledged reinforcements totalling 361 firefighters to join the roughly 1,100 French ones on the ground, along with several water-bombing planes from the European Union fleet.

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