Twelve French departments have been placed on a “red heatwave alert”, the Prime Minister announced earlier today. Writing on Twitter, Élisabeth Borne said: “Be vigilant! Stay hydrated, stay cool.” The red alert is in place across Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres, Vienne and Vendée.
Météo-France has also placed 25 departments under orange alert.
The forecaster warned of an “early and intense heat wave justifying red vigilance”.
It added: “Minimum and maximum temperature records are expected to be broken on Friday and Saturday.”
Up to 18 million people are expected to be affected by the alerts.
The Ministry of Health has set up a free telephone number in order to answer questions and give advice relating to the extreme weather.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has announced that schoolchildren in the 12 red departments will be able to stay at home on Friday.
The red alert is the highest level of the “national heatwave plan”.
It came into force at 2pm today.
He added: “Many monthly and even absolute records should be broken in several regions.”
Temperatures are expected to reach up to 39 degrees in some parts of the country, remaining high at night.
On Saturday, Météo-France has predicted highs of 42C in the south of Aquitaine to Berry, and 35 to 40C almost everywhere else.
The hot temperatures arrived in the country last Tuesday and have been seen across Europe.
Spain saw highs of up to 43 degrees last weekend.
Meanwhile, water is being rationed in several cities in Northern Italy.
Some parts of the country are preparing to declare a state of emergency as a result of a record drought threatening crops.
The UK has also seen record temperatures this week, with temperatures reaching up to 34C today.
Yesterday, London saw highs of 29.5C.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega