France to bake under 40C heatwave until midweek

A total 66 departments on orange alert as forecasters warn Europe's highest recorded temperature could be broken

Two-thirds of France are on orange heatwave alert, as forecasters repeat their warning that the conditions are set to last until the middle of next week.

Meteo-France placed 66 departments on its second-highest weather alert late on Thursday afternoon, and has maintained the heightened level in its early morning bulletin, with temperatures again expected to exceed 40C in parts of the south - notably the lower Rhône valley.

Météo-France's latest weather warning map

Only Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Normandy and Brittany are spared the worst of the conditions, with temperatures expected to hit 35C as far north as Nantes, Paris and Saint-Quentin.

Forecasters say the all-time temperature record for Europe could be broken in the coming days. The current European high is 48C (118.4F) set in Athens in July 1977 - but that temperature could be beaten somewhere along the Iberian peninsula in the week to come.

On Thursday in France, the mercury hit 38C in Aix-en-Provence, 36C in Bergerac, Alès and Périgueux, and 34C in Gruissan and Grau-du-Roi.

In Nîmes on Wednesday, 40.2C was recorded - the fourth highest temperature in the city since 1948. The record, set last year, is 41.6C.

Overnight temperatures dipped slightly lower than on Wednesday into Thursday. Perpignan recorded 27C at 5am on Friday, compared to 28C at 5am on Thursday, while it was 26.8C in Nice, 24.9 in Toulon, 23 in Limoges, 22.9 in Dijon, 21.7C in Paris and 19.8C in Strasbourg.

Forecasters warned that temperatures will remain high in the south over the weekend, while those in the north will experience a slight - and temporary - dip in the heat.

Click on the map to see the spread of temperatures over the weekend

Thermometers are set to rise again in the north on Monday and Tuesday, reaching highs of 35C, Meteo France said, before a gradual change in the weather over Wednesday and Thursday. Storms are forecast over much of the country over the two days, though temperatures are set to remain elevated in the East and South East.

The 66 departments on orange heatwave alert on Friday morning are: Ain, Allier, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Aube, Aude, Aveyron, Bouches-du-Rhône, Cantal, Charente, Cher, Corrèze, Corse-du-Sud, Haute-Corse, Côte-d'Or, Creuse, the Dordogne, the Doubs, the Drôme, the Eure-et-Loir, the Gard, the Haute-Garonne, the Gers, the Gironde, the Hérault, the Indre, the Indre-et-Loire, the Isère, the Jura, the Landes, the Loir-et-Cher, the Loire, the Loiret, the Lot, the Lot-et-Garonne, Haute-Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Nièvre, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Orientales, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Rhône, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Yvelines, Deux-Sèvres, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse, Vienne, Haute-Vienne, Vosges, Yonne, Territoire de Belfort, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne and Val-d'Oise.

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