New heatwave hits France during worst-ever drought
Updated 23:40, 10-Aug-2022
Ross Cullen in France

France is suffering its fourth heatwave of the year, with some areas set to hit 40 degrees Celsius over the next three days. The south-west region around the city of Bordeaux could see local temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.

The latest period of extreme high temperatures comes as France suffers its worst drought on record. The surface soil humidity is the lowest on record, according to the French weather office. The situation is now so critical that it will take long periods of sustained rain to restore water levels to normal. 

Some rivers have dropped to their lowest-ever levels, with lakes also drying up. The Sainte-Croix lake in the Verdon Gorge region of Provence is at a historic low, with the water level dropping by 6 centimeters per day. 

The area's top administrative official has ordered access to the gorge from the lake, normally busy with canoeists, kayakers and paddle-boarders, to be closed until further notice.


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The River Doubs is a popular holiday spot on the border between France and Switzerland but the river has now been reduced to a stream trickling through the mud. As the water recedes, so do the tourist numbers, which in turn impacts businesses relying on holiday trade.

"We are only making 15 percent of our usual turnover," said Christophe Vallier, a local restaurant owner. "Usually, we make up to 100 meals per day. Right now, we're doing 10 to 15. It's catastrophic, simply catastrophic – after two years of COVID-19, now a year of drought."

The United Nations' meteorological agency has underlined the record-breaking weather conditions this summer. 

"The world just had one of the three warmest Julys on record," said spokeswoman Clare Nullis. "And obviously as we all know there was a very prolonged, very intense heatwave affecting parts of Europe."



Firefighters use water cannon to control a forest fire near Saint-Magne, southwestern France on Wednesday August 10. Philippe Lopez / AFP

Firefighters use water cannon to control a forest fire near Saint-Magne, southwestern France on Wednesday August 10. Philippe Lopez / AFP

New wildfires in west and south-west France

In France's south-west Gironde region, fires are starting again. One such blaze is in Landiras, with 6,000 hectares burnt since August 8.

Major fires in the Landiras areas last month were brought under control but firefighters feared hotspots could reignite – a worry that has now come true.

Parts of the Loire Valley are also burning, with fire fighters trying to extinguish the blaze in the Pugle Forest before it rages out of control.

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