July heatwave: What temperatures to expect in France

An unusually long heatwave is forecast to hit France this week - here are the temperatures to expect across the country and when the weather might break.

July heatwave: What temperatures to expect in France
A dried-up field in Grignan, south-western France after the June 2022 heatwave broke records in France. (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP)

According to Météo-France, temperatures across France will begin to rise this week and stay unusually high for at least 10 days, probably longer.

The south west will be the most affected. On Tuesday, July 12th Toulouse can expect temperatures as high as 38C, and Bordeaux can plan on 37C.

Montpellier and La Rochelle are also in for a hot day, expecting 35C and 36C respectively.

Temperatures on Tuesday will also reach above 35C in the Rhone Valley near Montémilar and in the Hautes-Pyrénées area near Tarbes.

On the Mediterranean coast, however, Nice will be escaping some of the heat, expecting only 28C. 

In Paris, the ‘heatwave vigilance’ plan will be put into effect starting on Wednesday, when temperatures are forecast to hit approximately 34 to 35C. 

Unfortunately, if you’re looking to take a dip in Paris public pools to cool off, you’ll want to keep in mind that a quarter are closed due to a strike. You can double-check which pools are open HERE.

The peak of the heatwave is expected over the weekend of July 16th or 17th, when temperatures are expected to reach around 40C in several parts of France.

However, experts are not expecting temperatures to rise above 46C – as they did in 2019.

“It does not mean there is no change of it happening, but its very unlikely,” said forecaster Jean-Yves Choplin to Franceinfo.

The expected length of this heatwave is why it is being compared to those of 2019 and 2003. 

“Currently, our ten day predictions do not see the end of this heatwave,” said Choplin, adding that in terms of duration this heatwave is “well above” that of 2019, though “a bit less intense” in temperature. 

Climate expert at Météo France, Gaétan Heymes, tweeted that it is not possible to make predictions about the heatwave beyond July 16th currently, but he does “not exclude” that this heatwave could surpass the severity of that of August 2003, which led to thousands of heat-related deaths.

The weather event is the result of hot air coming from Morocco and Spain, in addition to the impacts of a high pressure system covering much of Eastern Europe.

The cause is also linked to the climate crisis, as heatwaves have become significantly more numerous since 2000. According to Choplin, “there were only two heat waves lasting more than ten days between 1947 and 2000,” while we have “already seen three since 2000.”

This heatwave, which could exacerbate the possibility of forest fires, comes just after a ‘mega fire’ in the Gard, which caused more than 650 hectares to be burned. 

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France opens up first offshore windfarm – but will more follow?

President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated France’s first offshore windfarm off the coast of Saint-Nazaire on Thursday as he seeks to accelerate renewable energy supply and improve energy security.

France opens up first offshore windfarm - but will more follow?

The 80 turbines will enter full service by the end of the year, and Macron has previously set a goal of about 50 offshore windfarms “providing up to 40 gigawatts” in service by 2050.

Following the belated inauguration of the country’s first offshore windfarm, another at Fécamp is due to start generating power in 2023. Sites in Saint-Brieuc, Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer are set to enter service in 2024.

But France has a long way to go to meet the President’s target, and to catch up with its European neighbours. Before the Saint-Nazaire wind farm (‘parc éolien’ – en français), France had only one floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Le Croisic.

At Thursday’s inauguration event, Macron was to set out the “main lines” of a bill to accelerate France’s renewable energy programme, which will be presented to the Council of Ministers on Monday, September 26th.

READ ALSO France generates electricity from offshore wind farm for the first time

There is no doubt that renewable energy production in France is accelerating. On top of the 80 offshore turbines at Saint-Nazaire, just under 9,000 onshore turbines are currently producing electricity in France – eight years ago, around half that number of land-based turbines were operational. 

The first turbines in France were only installed in the 1990s – by which time countries like Germany and Denmark already had large-scale operations in place. 

More turbines would be in operation now in France, but for the lengthy planning process and appeals against projects, which have delayed construction for several years.

Hauts-de-France and Grand-Est, account for 50 percent of the wind-produced power in France. Île-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, and Corsica lag behind the other regions.

READ MORE: Energy shortages: What’s the problem with France’s nuclear industry?

In 2020, wind produced just eight percent of its electricity from wind, behind hydroelectric stations, while nuclear power generated nearly 70 percent of the country’s electricity.

Wind power accounted for 20 percent of electricity generation in Germany and Spain, while the UK was at 30 percent in 2020, Portugal produced 40 percent, and Denmark’s windfarms met 60 percent of the country’s electricity needs.