Visits to many French forests not advised as risk of fire high in south

One forest has been closed to public

Smoking in forests is banned due to the increased risk of fires
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People are being warned to stay away from forests in the south of France as the risk of wildfires increases.

Authorities in the Gard, Hérault, Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales departments have said forested areas are at high risk of blazes, mainly due to strong winds.

Read more: Forest fire warnings raised in the south of France

Access to most forested areas is not forbidden but in the Hérault access to the Lez reserve and Montmaur forest is closed.

Elsewhere, authorities recommend people do not enter forested spaces and starting a fire or smoking cigarettes in forested areas is banned.

These heightened warnings have been issued by local authorities, and do not correspond to those published by the state forecaster Météo France on its forest fire risk map. 

Météo France currently only has heightened warnings in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, however this will be lowered on Friday (July 5). 

You can find the national forest fire map here.

Read more: How does France's wildfire risk forecast work? Where can I see it?

Which areas are most at risk?

The photos below show which areas of the four departments are now at higher risk: 

Despite the aforementioned sites being closed in Hérault, other spaces including the Lunaret zoo remain open. The cities of Montpellier and Béziers are covered by the warnings. 

In Aude, it is mostly coastal areas that are on highest alert. A forest fire which destroyed 35 hectares of land broke out in the department earlier this week.

Eastern areas of the Gard are on higher alert, including around Camargue.

In the Pyrénées-Orientales, alerts are highest along the border with Aude, although some lower level warnings remain throughout the department, even in mountainous areas.