Around four-in-five French departments have been put on high alert over pollen levels.
In its most recent update on Monday (May 22), France’s pollen surveillance network, Réseau national de surveillance aérobiologique (RNSA), said grass pollen was spreading north from the south of the country.
The RNSA said the rain in early May had been both a blessing and a curse, by sticking pollen to the ground and providing respite for allergy sufferers but unfortunately also encouraging the growth and development of grass pollen.
It stated the return of higher temperatures and sunnier weather will see high concentrations of grass pollen in the air, but that storms could bring temporary relief by again sticking the pollen to the ground.
On the bright side, the birch pollen season - the most widespread and impactful pollen in France - is coming to an end, with the allergy level varying from low- to medium-risk.
The risk of nettle pollen (including plantain and sorrel) is low across France except for around the Mediterranean, where it could reach high levels. The risk of olive tree pollen is also low to high in this region.
Florian Laracine, a pharmacist in Grenoble, told FranceInfo that half of his customers come in for allergy treatments and so he is stocking up.
“We are seeing more and more patients, but I do not think the epidemic has reached its peak,” he said.
“I think the epidemic will get stronger next week. I believe they have announced the weather will be beautiful next weekend,” he added, referencing May 27-28.
Practical advice for allergy sufferers
The RNSA has published practical advice for allergy sufferers, including:
Regularly read the pollen vigilance map on their website
Wash your hair in the evenings
Open the windows and air your house or flat for at least 10 minutes a day before sunrise/after sunset
Avoid drying clothes outside
Keep car windows closed
Avoid doing exercise/sport outside
It also noted that pollution in big cities will exacerbate pollen allergies.