Much of the country has seen high temperatures all week with an unusually early heatwave, but Saturday is predicted to be the hottest day so far.
A total of 14 département are red alert – the highest alert level where the temperatures present a danger to human health and life – while 56 of the country’s 96 mainland départements are on orange alert.
The alert area covers almost the entire country including the greater Paris Île-de-France region and most of Brittany and Normandy, where temperatures are predicted to hit 38C.
The highest temperatures remain in west and south west France, which will continue to see 40C heat on Saturday.
— Météo-France (@meteofrance) June 17, 2022
The areas on red alert are; Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres, Gers, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Vendée and Vienne.
In better news, the heatwave is predicted to break on Saturday evening with storms pushing in from the west and ushering in cooler temperatures.
Friday saw one third of French départements at the highest or second-highest heat alert level, schoolchildren in the south west were told to stay at home, many public events were cancelled and the health ministry activated a special heatwave hotline.
“Hospitals are at capacity, but are keeping up with demand,” Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon told reporters in Vienne, near Lyon in the southeast.
“This is the earliest heatwave ever recorded in France” since 1947, said Matthieu Sorel, a climatologist at weather authority Meteo France.
With “many monthly or even all-time temperature records likely to be beaten in several regions,” he called the unseasonable weather a “marker of climate change”.