Heatwave, storms hit France as holiday traffic jams start
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Large parts of France were on heatwave and storm warning Saturday, as the first traffic jams of the summer holidays clogged motorways heading south.
Seventeen departments in central, eastern and south-west France were placed on heatwave alert on Saturday, with temperatures expected to rise as high as 38°C in the Rhône valley and 33-37°C elsewhere.
The Ain, Allier, Isère, Jura, Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône and Saône-et-Loire were already on alert on Friday and the warning was maintained until Sunday at 9.00pm.
The Charente, Charente-Maritime, Dordogne, Gers, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantique and Haoutes-Pyrénées were issued orange-level storm warnings with were not expected to be lifted before Sunday evening.
The number was raised to 25 during the day, those added included Aquitaine, Limousin, Nord-Massif Central, Bourgogne, Franche-Comté and Sud-Alsace.
Heavy showers, strong winds and hail were forecast.
Meanwhile, as French school holidays started, the first holidaymakers left Paris and other major cities to head south.
There were traffic jams on the A7 motorway between Lyon and the southern metropolis of Marseille by 10.00am, on the A6 between Paris and Lyon, on the A10 near Tours and on the A9 near Nîmes on the way to Spain.
More traffic jams were expected throughout the weekend, with Belgian and Dutch tourists swelling the ranks of French motorists.