With temperatures due to climb to 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) and humidity levels making the heat feel closer to 47C, Le Brevet, a national diploma taken by 14-year-olds, will take place next week instead of this Thursday and Friday.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, the education minister, said the decision was taken to “guarantee the security of the pupils”. The timetable of the exams would otherwise remain unchanged, he added.
More than half of France has been placed under “orange alert” by Meteo France, the national weather forecaster.
Temperatures were already rising on Tuesday with 34C expected in Paris and 41C in Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon, but they are due to climb even higher on Thursday and Friday, reaching at least 37C in the French capital.
The temperatures are forecast to be the highest for a month of June since detailed records began in 1947, and in some areas the highest for any month of the year.
A heatwave is defined as three days and nights of temperatures above a specific ceiling, which varies according to each region. While southeastern France could bear the brunt of the heat “no region will be spared” before the weekend, said Meteo France. Temperatures will start abating in most areas on Sunday, according to current forecasts, but could remain at alert levels in the South into next week.
Scorching Sahara winds are said to be the cause of the spike, which has rekindled painful memories of 2003, when France was hit by an unexpected heatwave that killed 15,000 people in 15 days.
In a prescient symbol of the rising heat, some pointed out that one real-time satellite graphic of the heatwave looked ominously like a human skull, with one meteorologist likening it to Edvard Munch’s notoriously angst-ridden painting, The Scream.
As a result, authorities are taking no chances with President Emmanuel Macron promising that the “whole government” is on deck to help manage the crisis.
“As you know, at times like these, sick people, pregnant women, infants and elderly people are the most vulnerable. So we must be vigilant with them and have prevention measures in place in order to intervene as quickly as possible,” he said.
The opposition Right questioned the decision to postpone Le Brevet as an “over-zealous” precaution but Agnès Buzyn, the health minister, said: “At some point, one has to act on the fact that the climate is changing and that we need to adapt our society accordingly.”
She also called on businesses to allow employees to resort to teleworking if necessary.
In Paris, public spaces such as town halls and government offices will open up air-conditioned spaces for anyone finding it hard to cope. The elderly or infirm can call a special number to be driven to the nearest such “cool rooms” while 18 city parks will remain open overnight. Special cool areas will be created in some train stations.
Source : Link