There are a great many things France is known for that you simply can’t find anywhere else in the world; The best foie gras, real Champagne, and the world’s most enviable skin care products can all be found in France. One thing France isn’t known for, however, is their air conditioning. France is tres magique in the summer, with the Paris evening light lingering longer than it should and the waters along the coast of the Meditterean showing off their sparkle. But when the heat swells, finding a respite from it isn’t as easy as it sometimes is in the U.S.
Currently, in the midst of an extreme heat wave, temperatures in France have climbed higher than the country has ever seen to date. On Friday, June 28, the temperature in Carpentras reached 44.3 Celsius (112 Fahrenheit) and peaked in Gallargues-le-Montueux at a staggering 45.9 Celsius (114.6 Fahrenheit). The previous record was set in the same region in 2003, when the temperature reached 44.1 Celsius (111.3 Fahrenheit) in the area surrounding Montpelier and Nîmes.
Carpentras is within the Vaucluse département of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It’s about 100 miles northeast of Nîmes, and a thirty minute’s drive from Avignon. About an hour southwest of Carpentras lies Gallargues-le-Montueux. Nîmes and Montpellier are also within Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, which encompasses many of the southern France hotspots tourists visit in the summer, including St. Tropez, Nice, and Cannes.
France as a country is taking the extenuating heat circumstances quite seriously. Not only were schools across 225 French towns closed on Friday, but public spaces where locals and tourists can seek refuge from the heat are dropping their entry fees. Marseille, for example, opened their museums to the public free of charge such that anyone could come in and benefit from the air conditioning.
The Vaucluse area, as well as Gard, Hérault, and Bouches-du-Rhône, are all on emergency red alert, with government officials from the minister of health all the way up to French President Emmanual Macron urging people to take extra precautions in this heat.
For those traveling in France right now, even areas outside Vaucluse are swelling, which means heat precautions need to be taken diligently, regardless of your European destination. Marseille hit 36 Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) on Friday and Paris got up to 34 Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, and the high temperatures persist.