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HEATWAVE

Record-breaking heat: What temperatures can we expect in France this week?

Temperature records were broken across France on Monday as the searing heatwave continues - here's a look at the forecast for the week and when the heatwave is expected to break.

Record-breaking heat: What temperatures can we expect in France this week?
A road sign reads "Extreme Heat, drink water" as France experiences an extreme heatwave. Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP

Monday saw red heat warnings for 15 départements on the west of the country and dozens of towns recorded their highest ever temperatures.

The mercury hit 39.3C in Brest on the Atlantic coast in the far northwest of the country compared with a previous record of 35.1C from 2002.

Saint-Brieuc on the Channel coast sizzled in 39.5C compared with a previous record of 38.1C, while western Nantes recorded 42C, beating a previous high of 40.3C set in 1949.

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The all-time high temperature recorded in mainland France dates to 2019 when the southern village of Verargues, north-east of Montpellier, experienced 46C, this was not broken although large parts of the rest of France saw temperatures over 40C on Monday.

The west coast, especially the north west, is usually one of the cooler areas of the country but this time was not spared by the heat.

Tuesday

Overnight from Monday to Tuesday the temperature did not drop below 25C anywhere, making for some sticky and uncomfortable nights, but from Tuesday morning the temperature will start to drop.

The drop will begin in the west, where temperatures are expected to fall sharply – 15C-20C in just a couple of hours. Further east, including Paris, temperatures will stay very high – above 40C – until Tuesday evening.

Overnight Tuesday there is a risk of stormy showers as the temperature falls suddenly.

Wednesday onwards

Rain showers, some heavy and with thunder, are likely on Wednesday but from Wednesday onwards temperatures will be back to seasonal norms – 25C-30C in the north and 30C-35C in the south. 

Fires

The intense heatwave has already caused multiple forest fires in France and elsewhere, and some farmers have taken to working at night to minimise the risk of a spark from their harvesting equipment starting a fire that destroys their crops.

Firefighters are still battling to control two massive wildfires in Gironde, south west France, where an area the size of Paris has already burned. Thousands of locals and tourists have been evacuated as the fires continue to rage.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

IN PICTURES: French drought intensifies as River Loire dries up

As France continues to suffer its worst drought on record, many of its mighty rivers - including the Loire and the Dordogne - have in some areas dwindled to a trickle while in other regions lakes and reservoirs have vanished.

IN PICTURES: French drought intensifies as River Loire dries up

Almost all of France is now under some level of water restrictions and in many communes tap water has been rationed or even cut off altogether as supplies run dry.

The climate crisis-linked drought – intensified by an unusually hot summer – has dried out many subterranean water supplies, but the country’s rivers are also affected.

From the Loire to the Dordogne, rivers are slowing to a trickle – as this aerial video from French TV channel LCI shows.

The dry bed of the Loire River in Saumur, western France on August 8th. Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP)

Swimmers bathe in the Adour river near Aire-sur-Adour, southwestern France, on August 9th. Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP

Across France many lakes have also virtually dried up, while reservoirs are at a perilously low level.

The dry bed of Lac des Brenets, part of the Doubs River, a natural border between eastern France and western Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

In inland areas, many lakes have ‘beaches’ that serve as leisure attractions for locals who are too far away for day-trips to the sea – complete with sun-beds, bars, cafés and souvenir stalls.

Some lake beaches have been forced to close because of the lack of water.

A man walks at the Castillon lake, partially dried out, in Saint-Andre-les-Alpes, southeastern France. Photo by Christophe SIMON / AFP

Marshland has also dried out, threatening wildlife and also the livelihood of France’s artisan salt-makers, who produce fleur de sel from salt marshes around the French coastline.

French salt worker Evan Thoby collects salt flowers in salt marshes, in Batz-sur-Mer, western France. Photo by Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

These scenes have been repeated across Europe, including in Italy where the Po river has dried up and Germany where the Rhine – which carried a huge amount of freight traffic in normal times – is perilously low and has had to restrict shipping. 

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