Map: What is the highest temperature recorded in your part of France?

We look at records across the country as the current heatwave continues

A colour-coded department showing the highest temperature record per department, by shades of red
The highest temperature recorded in France was 46C in Hérault
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As the south of France continues to swelter in a heatwave, we look at the temperature records for each French department.

Where are the maximum temperature records?

The data, released by Méteo France in 2022, shows France’s highest temperatures were recorded in the following departments:

  • Hérault, at 46C on June 28, 2019, in Vérargues
  • This was closely followed by Gard, 45.9C, also on June 28, 2019, in Gallargues-le-Montueux.

Almost as high were Bouches-du-Rhône (44.6C), Var (44.5C), Vaucluse (44.3C), Drôme (44C), andPyrénées-Orientales (43.6C), all of which hit their maximum on the same date: June 28, 2019.

Other significant peaks were recorded in Hautes-Pyrénées (44C), whose record stands since August 1, 1945. Also above 40C were: Haute-Garonne (44C), Landes (43C), Corse-du-Sud (43.4C) and Ardèche (43.2C).

Although not confirmed by Méteo France, temperatures in Haute-Corse reportedly hit 42.8C on Tuesday (July 18), higher than the record of 42.1C, set in 1983. There were also reports of the mercury exceeding 40C in Ariège, which would also be a new record.

It is worth noting in which conditions the temperature recordings are taken. Méteo France always takes them in the shade, several centimetres above the ground and sheltered from the wind.

Where were the ‘lowest’ maximum temperatures?

The ‘lowest’ maximums were found in:

  • Doubs, at 38C, on July 25, 2019, in Pontarlier
  • Haute-Vienne, 38.4C, on July 23, 2019, in Saint-Yriex-la-Perche
  • Manche, at 37.5C, on July 23, 2019, in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët
  • Finistère, at 35.2C on July 12, 1949, in Brest

What is the current situation?

Nine departments are on a Météo France orange alert (the second-highest level) for a heatwave on Wednesday (July 19) and Thursday (July 20).

They are: Hérault, Gard, Vaucluse, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Haute-Corse, and Corse-du-Sud.

Météo France has said that these nine departments are likely to see temperatures of above 35C, reaching up to 36-38C, and as high as 40C in Var. Nighttime temperatures on Wednesday, are set to remain very high, with lows between 22 and 26C, it said.

It warned that these temperatures “require particular vigilance, especially for people who are sensitive or at risk”.

What qualifies as a heatwave in France?

The term “heatwave” in English is applied more generally to any period when temperatures feel higher than usual.

In France, meteorologists will declare a “canicule” if temperatures exceed expected levels for the time of year during the day and stay high at night for a period of at least three consecutive days or more.

The temperature thresholds depend on the region. Paris would be classed as being in the midst of a canicule if the temperature is higher than 31C during the day and 21C at night for more than three days, but in Marseille this label would only be applied for highs of 36C and 24C.

Another reason for the lack of fixed canicule temperatures is that certain meteorological conditions can make the air feel hotter and more humid than it actually is, increasing the effect on the general public.

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