Weekend heatwave alert for France: 10 things not to do in hot weather

Avoid cold showers and do not turn your air conditioning too low are among tips to stay cool, as Météo France places several departments on alert

13 August 2021
Young woman reacting in shock to cold shower water. Hot weather continues in France: 10 things not to do in a heatwave

Contrary to common belief, taking cold showers actually makes your body temperature hotter in the long-run Pic: LarsZ / Shutterstock

By Hannah Thompson

France is set to swelter in heatwave conditions this weekend with an official Météo France amber-alert heatwave warning in place in five departments

The heatwave is expected to last until Sunday, August 15. 

On Thursday, August 12, thunderstorm warnings were in place in 13 departments: Allier, Jura, Puy-de-Dôme, Saône-et-Loire, Drôme, Haute-Loire, Loire, Rhône, Ain, Haute-Savoie, Savoie, Ardèche and Isère, with the wind and rain easing during the early hours of Friday (13) morning.

At 05:00 on Friday, most of the areas under amber alert were experiencing temperatures of 20-22°C, while in locations along the Côte d’Azur, including Nice and Fréjus, it was already 26°C.

Here are 10 French tips for what not to do during a heatwave.

1. Avoid leaving your shutters open all day

Keeping shutters closed will keep your home cool. Open them for ventilation in the cooler hours.

2. Do not set your air conditioning too cold

This sounds counterproductive, but keeping your aircon on too cool can cause you to catch a cold. Better to keep the temperature slightly higher, and stay healthy.

3. Do not take cold showers during the day 

Contrary to popular belief, taking cold showers actually makes your body temperature hotter in the long run, as your body tries to heat you up afterwards. Maintaining a warm-to-cool temperature is more effective to stay cool.

4. Avoid using a fan during the night 

Fans can send allergens into your face and nose, and breathing in air that is too cold can cause colds and respiratory issues.

5. Avoid running your electrical appliances where possible

Cookers, ovens and washing machines all produce excess heat.

6. Avoid sports and exercise during the hottest hours of the day 

It is easier to overheat if you run or do intense exercise during the hottest hours. Try to stick to cooler hours.

7. Do not eat heavy meals

Sticking to fruit and veg, plus drinking plenty of water, will help you to feel best in the heat. 

8. Avoid alcohol or fizzy drinks 

They may feel refreshing, but alcohol and sugary drinks can cause you to dehydrate faster. Try to drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day. 

9. Do not dry sheets and clothes outside

Although they will dry quicker outside, drying them inside can help cool down your home.

10. Do not water your garden during the day

Instead do it in the cooler hours so as to avoid the water from evaporating from plants too quickly.

In France, an official ‘canicule’ or heatwave is declared when temperatures in the area reach significantly higher than average for three days and three nights consecutively.

In Paris, this is 31C during the day and 21C at night. In Marseille, the level is set at 34C during the day, and 24C at night. The number of inhabitants in the town is also taken into consideration.

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27 French departments bring in water restrictions as temperatures rise

7 French expressions to use when it's hot weather

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