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Heat Wave With Record Temperatures Sweeps Across Europe


Europe is being hit by a heat wave. Spain, Germany and Italy have all seen record temperatures. And in France, the government has had to postpone school exams and limit the number of cars in the city of Paris. Jake Cigainero sent us this postcard from Paris.

JAKE CIGAINERO, BYLINE: Temperatures in Paris are hovering around the mid-90s, and this in a city where hardly anyone has air conditioning in their homes.



CIGAINERO: So Parisians are jumping into the water wherever they can. In northeast Paris, children splash around in a fountain. Florian Bulliard brought his 3- and 6-year-old kids to help them cool off. He says it's too hot for the kids to do anything else.

FLORIAN BULLIARD: I come from a small town in a mountain, so I'm not used to have it this hot. So it's very difficult for us.

CIGAINERO: His family has even thought about going back to the mountains to escape the heat wave. The French government takes heat waves very seriously after 15,000 people died in a record hot spell in 2003. So Paris now has a smartphone application that points Parisians to places where they can cool off. The city has opened cooling centers around Paris, and there's also a call center that checks on the elderly, who are particularly at risk.


CIGAINERO: Along the Canal de l'ourcq, brave swimmers dive from atop a tall gangway into the water, even though swimming there is forbidden. Julien Dormeur didn't care about that or the cleanliness of the water he's jumping into. Dormeur says the heatwave actually makes his job more enjoyable.

JULIEN DORMEUR: Go to work, enjoy the air conditioning, and then we are home. I think it is the best time to go to work.

CIGAINERO: But for some, there's no escape from the heat, like the bakers cranking out baguettes every day.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking in French).

CIGAINERO: Florian Gaillard starts his day at 3 a.m. to make 600 loaves of bread by noon. With the ovens on full blast, he says the kitchens can soar to a sweltering 115 degrees. Gaillard says he drank three liters of water in the last six hours.

FLORIAN GAILLARD: (Speaking in French).

CIGAINERO: "We open all the windows to get as much breeze as possible," he says. "But it's the job. We work with ovens, so it's normal for it to be hot." Gaillard says winter is a much better season for bakers.

For NPR News, I'm Jake Cigainero in Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF TEEN DAZE'S "SPRING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.