“Welcome to the sauna”: The laundry at Rue de Meaux operates normally, although the outside temperature has already exceeded 30 degrees on Saturday morning. It’s much warmer inside. In an emergency, call firefighters to cool off, says the laundry owner, and laughs.
Not only in Paris, but also in other parts of France, many people do not want to laugh today. A heat wave from the Sahara is rushing through the country, and monthly record temperatures of up to 40 degrees are expected in many places. The last days have been unusually hot for mid-June.
“France is suffering from an intense heat wave coming at an unprecedented rate,” said Météo France, a weather service that began measuring in 1947. In southwestern departments such as the Gironde around Bordeaux, it issued a red heat wave warning on Thursday. It was even hotter on Friday. In Toulouse, a city of 500,000 inhabitants, the thermometer reached 39.6 degrees, in medieval Carcassonne 40.7 degrees and in the small town of Durban-Corbières north of Perpignan 42.3 degrees.
Due to the “kanicule”, as the French call the heat, children in twelve wards with a red emergency did not have to go to school on Friday. If you want and can, you can take care of your children at home, the Ministry of Education wrote to its parents, stating that only “low-intensity” physical activities are allowed.
“A Really Exceptional Situation”
The fire brigade was put on standby, especially in rural areas. Farmers are afraid of their crops. Because it has hardly rained in recent weeks and the vegetation is dry, fires can spread particularly quickly. In the Vendée department in western France, local media have repeatedly reported on field fires in recent days. In the Aveyron department in southern France, a fire destroyed 25 hectares this week and the village with almost 30 inhabitants had to be evacuated.
The heat also affects traffic. As heat increased ozone concentrations, authorities in the Île-de-France capital region, the Lyon region and the Hauts-de-France region in the north-east of the country have tightened speeds. Instead of 130, you can drive only 110 kilometers per hour on the highway. Whereas previously the speed limit was 110, now the speed limit is 90.
Traffic restrictions also apply in Paris. From Saturday morning, only vehicles with the eco-label in classes 0, 1 and 2 can pass through the capital and suburbs, which excludes older and foreign vehicles – the German eco-label is not recognized. In order to lure drivers on the bus and train in the heat, there is a special day ticket to Île-de-France this Saturday. The so-called “forfait antipollution” costs 3.80 euros and includes some airport connections.
Météo France does not rule out absolute temperature records for Saturday afternoons either. “This is a really extraordinary situation,” the meteorological service writes on its website. Thunderstorms are expected in the evening, at night and tomorrow on Sunday before the heat wave will gradually subside.