Strangely enough, the highest temperatures ever recorded in France were as high inland as they were on the coast and, although the hottest spots were in the South, the North is not as far behind as you might think.
While our own summer heat-wave may well have come and gone, the heat continues in France for the time being. Summer temperatures are set to peak in early August but the rest of the final month of summer is not likely to be an exceptionally warm one, according to the experts.
The overall record in all categories comes from a coastal location: The weather station at Figari in southern Corsica set a (thus far) unbeaten peak in the mercury on the 23rd of July 2009 measuring 43°C. Although an all-time record of
44.1°C was set in 2003 by the weather station in Saint-Christol-lès-Alès (in the department of Gard, in the South of France), the conditions surrounding the measurement are debatable, rendering it an invalid measurement in the eyes of most hardcore weathermen in France.
The official coastal record demonstrates just how much a coastal area can be just as subject to extreme heat, contrary to most people’s expectations. Under normal weather conditions, heat often doesn’t last as long on the beaches as it does inland because where there is little change in altitude, sea breezes tend to gather speed.
In second place, the Bassin D’Arcachon (on the Southern Atlantic coast close to the Spanish border) weighs in with a figure of 42°C. Like the contested record, it too was recorded during the killer heatwave of 2003 in August. At the same time, the Biarritz station reached 40,6°C.
In third place, another pair of records set in 2003 – Marseilles and La Rochelle, which both hit 40°C.
The northern department of Manche in Normandy was not at the top of the general classification, but it has had its fair share of extreme temperatures. In circumstances where the air mass is very hot and winds are blowing in a south-easterly direction, heat generated from the land is intensified on the coastline. Thus, during the 2003 heatwave, record books were re-written when the mercury at Dinard came in at 39.4°C in August of that year – a full 4°C higher than the previous record set. In July 2006, Dunkirk – one of the most northerly beaches in all of France – recorded a temperature of 38,2°C.