RECORD high temperatures have prompted Météo France to put 26 departments on orange heatwave danger alert.
The weather forecaster says the thermometer could hit 41C in Bordeaux as a heatwave sweeps from the south-west over the country and across Europe.
The departments affected are in the centre of the country, stretching from Lot-et-Garonne north to Val d'Oise and east to Ain.
They are: Lot-et-Garonne, Lot, Dordogne, Corrèze, Haute-Vienne, Creuse, Puy-de-Dôme, Indre, Cher, Allier, Loire, Rhône, Ain, Saône-et-Loire, Nièvre, Loiret, Yonne, Côte-d'Or, Seine-et-Marne, Essonne, Yvelines, Val-d'Oise, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne and Paris.
Météo France said the plume of heat is very unusual for the end of June and has not been seen for 60 years. Rising from Spain – where it has hit 43C in Cordoba – it will be 40C in the shade across the south-west and could hit 34-38C in the north, with night temperatures not dropping below 20C.
Record day and night-time temperatures are expected in Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrénées and Limousin and could last until next weekend. The plume will spread across Languedoc-Roussillon, the Massif Central, Franche-Comté and Rhône-Alpes where it could hit 40C, beating the 39.8C record set in Lyon on July 22, 1983.
Only the northern Atlantic and Channel coasts will escape the high temperatures - and summer storms may break out across the north-west next weekend.
Météo France forecaster Etienne Kapikian warned news website 20 Minutes that a hot July was not a sure sign for the rest of the summer – as August could still be “rotten” as it was during the last July heatwave in 2006.
The Health Ministry has warned of the dangers of a heatwave where temperatures are high during the day and do not fall substantially at night for at least three days.Its advice can be summed up as: Keep cool, drink water regularly, take showers, close curtains and shutters during the day and air the house in the cool morning.
Vous aussi avez passé la nuit comme ça? Je vous raconte pas la semaine à venir... http://t.co/eJqLOk20PQ #Météo pic.twitter.com/VSLOfTgvre— Nice-Matin (@Nice_Matin) June 29, 2015
Graphic: Météo France