Storms arrive to end France's record-breaking heatwave

Departments in southeast France remain on orange 'canicule' alert as cooler weather brings relief from north and west

A total 13 departments remain on orange 'canicule' alert, as the record-breaking heatwave that France has sweltered under for the past week releases its grip.

The affected departments are: Ain, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Bouches-du-Rhône, Drôme, Gard, Hérault, Isère, Rhône, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Var, and Vaucluse.

Temperatures are expected to reach highs of between 34C and 38C on Monday the afternoon, Météo France forecasters warned.

Elsewhere, conditions are noticeably fresher, as cool weather moves in from the north and west - to the relief of thousands of students facing brevet exams which had been scheduled for last Thursday and Friday, but were postponed due to the heatwave.

Unsurprisingly, the marked change in conditions will lead to storms - notably over the Massif Central and Alpine areas in the afternoon, and Bourgogne and Franche-Comté in the evening. Forecasters said the storm system, which is already active in a band stretching from the Grand Est in the east to Pays de la Loire in the west, is expected to bring hail, heavy rains and strong winds.

The heatwave - during which a new French record high temperature of 45.9C was recorded at Gallargues-le-Montueux, Gard, on Friday - will clear France on Tuesday. Twelve other stations also recorded temperatures higher than the previous record of 44.1C, set during the deadly heatwave of August 2003.

Temperatures - though some 10 to 15C lower than in recent days - will remain higher than the seasonal average for several days, Météo France said. In general, forecasters expect this summer to be warmer than normal in France, but cannot predict if the country will face another heatwave.

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