How hot can it get in France? Très, très chaud. The French call it a canicule – a heat wave that blasts day and night and lasts more than three consecutive days. In a European city like Paris where the majority of its inhabitants live in apartment buildings with NO air conditioning, home can be a boiling infernal for the elderly, babies and children as well as for those who work from home.
Don’t underestimate the dangerous consequences of high temperatures. In 2003, 15,000 people in France died from the scorching heat during a three-week summer canicule ! The death toll was so alarming that French health and civil authorities now have a plan d’action to roll out to ensure relief and safety. And the measures will surely be needed as weather forecasters warn of temperatures beating previous June records. Unless you live along a coastline with sea breezes, temperatures in Paris and throughout France will be soaring up to 40 degrees Celsius and higher. About two-thirds of the country is on high alert.
You like it HOT? Here are four refreshing ways to keep cool in the French capital and urban hotspots.
Drink plenty of water. Do not allow yourself or a loved one to become dehydrated. You know you are suffering from a heat stroke when you feel faint, dizzy, nauseous or tired.
Place wet towels on your forehead and feet to bring down your body temperature. Head to one of the nearest 12,000 water drinking fountains or many spray misters which the City of Paris has installed throughout the city to quench your thirst and refresh your face. Accept the free bottles in the metro and train stations that the RATP and SNCF are currently distributing to passengers. Plunge in one of the city’s public swimming pools which will be kept open late until 10:30 pm this week for evening dips. The public is welcome to splash in the Bassin de la Villette, and even though the Trocadero fountains are not meant to be bathing ponds, quick romps are forgiven.
For the best swimming holes in Paris, check out INSPIRELLE’s top picks.
Sleep in a park
Those who live on the top floors of Paris apartments know how badly hot air does not circulate. You can try closing your shutters in the daytime, sleeping on bamboo mats like they do in tropical countries, or you can take up the City of Paris’ offer to sleep in one of 13 designated large parks open all night during the heat wave. There are also 912 “îlots de fraîcheur” designated where you can escape the heat. To easily locate one of these refreshing havens nearest to you, download and click on Paris’ new app Extrema Paris.
Take a break from the hot kitchen and prepare a picnic for your family. Enjoy summer outdoor cinema, dinner by the Seine River or take advantage of summer sales in air-conditioned shopping stores.
There’s plenty of summer activities in Paris to keep you refreshed and entertained. Read INSPIRELLE’s fabulous summer fun roundup.
Avoid the car
Pollution peaks in hot temperatures. The City of Paris is enforcing “differentiated” driving, meaning your car’s Crit’Air air-quality certificate determines whether or not you can drive on the road. Be careful to not leave children or the elderly in hot cars for any length of time. Bike, scoot, paddle or walk with a hat on and covered in sun protection.
School canicule kit
The Ministry of Education has delayed middle-school final exams until early next week to allow cooler heads to concentrate on their brevet. Some Ile de France schools are closing their doors this week knowing the buildings do not offer proper shelter. Other schools are handing our canicule kits that contain a water gourde, a manual for beating the heat, and a shade for students.
Take care of yourself and don’t forget to keep an eye out on a neighbor or an elderly living alone. We’ve been waiting for summer after all…