[Update: July 12 at 16:25 - Météo France has now placed seven departments - Gironde, Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn-et-Garonne, Haute-Garonne, Tarn, Ardèche and Drôme - under an orange canicule alert, with several others on a yellow warning.]
Hot weather is forecast across the whole of France today (July 12) as a heatwave is forecast to last until at least this weekend, with temperatures of 32-38C expected almost everywhere.
The hottest temperatures are expected in Toulouse and Bordeaux, with 38C and 37C respectively. Montpellier and La Rochelle are also set to swelter at 35C and 36C.
The 35C threshold is also set to be hit in the Rhône, Montélimar, and in Tarbes. Nantes should see 36C, Orléans 33C, Rennes 35C, and Lille and Paris 33C.
The only exception is Nice, where the temperature will be a slightly less-balmy 28C (although it is set to be sunny all day).
And while most of the country will be sunny, there will also be some clouds in the north, and some over the Pyrenees, Alps, and Corsica towards the afternoon.
Forecaster Météo France said that the high temperatures were evidence of global warming, which will cause summers to be hotter, with “35C becoming the norm”.
How to manage the heat
Authorities, including Santé publique France and the CHU of Bordeaux, have reminded people to:
- Avoid intense physical exercise
- Keep hydrated during the hot weather
- Avoid alcohol
- Eat enough and focus on cooling foods
- Stay in cool areas
- Close the shutters during the day and open at night
- Try to bring the temperature of your bedroom down to 19C at night
- Moisten your body throughout the day with a water spray
- Avoid staying out too long during the hottest times of the day
- Check in on loved ones, especially the vulnerable
- In an emergency, call 15
Dr Jérôme Marty, a GP and president of the French Union for Free Medicine, told BFMTV: "The main thing is to drink regularly, throughout the day. It is better to drink in small quantities several times than a lot once or twice.
“Eating foods that contain water, such as watermelon is also a good idea.”
What rights do workers have during intense heat?
France has certain rules and rights for staff who must work outdoors during hot weather. Each worker must have access to at least three litres of cold drinking water per day, and a cool space in which to escape the heat.
Their clothing must also be “compatible with high heat”, especially for drivers of heavy machinery or younger workers.
The economy ministry stated: “The law stipulates that employers must take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protect the health of their employees, including temperature conditions.”
Workplaces must be evacuated if the interior temperature exceeds 34C.
Building work may start earlier in the day and finish earlier. Workers who are required to work from home may alert their employer to temperatures of more than 34C, and state that they are finishing work early due to the intense heat.
This is called “exercising your right to withdraw”, as specified in article L4131-1 of the Work Code, which states this is allowed if the worker “has reasonable cause to believe that the work presents a serious and imminent danger to their life or health, as well as any defect they see in the protective systems”.
In the case of a department on red alert for heat, employees must check on the welfare of their staff, especially pregnant women, those with chronic conditions, or with disabilities.
If workers believe that their health is not being prioritised during a heatwave situation, they can call on the labour inspectorate, the staff representative, or the health, safety and working conditions committee (CHSCT) of their company.
According to research institute the INRS, temperatures of more than 30C in an office, and 28C outside, can constitute a risky working environment for the health of staff.