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Austrian tourist drowns as warm weather fills France’s beaches

Beachfront houses at Saqint-Jean-de-Luz
Beachfront houses at Saqint-Jean-de-Luz Tony Cross

Unseasonably warm temperatures combined with French schools’ autumn break encouraged bathers and surfers to take to the beaches this weekend. But it ended unhappily for some – an Austrian man drowned and several other bathers had to be rescued by bystanders.

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As many French families took a week’s holiday for the All Saints’ Day break, temperatures hit 30°C on the west coast and swimmers, surfers and sunbathers hit the beach.

Some were still out at 10pm in Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the French Basque Country and shops that usually cater for summer holidaymakers opened to catch the unexpected crowds.

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But, although the sun was out, the sea was sometimes choppy – with waves up to three metres in some places – and lifesavers’ teams have been stood down after the summer along much of France’s west coast.

A 47-year-old Austrian man drowned at Contis, in the western Landes region, on Saturday.

His body was washed ashore at 7.00pm, half an hour after his wife sounded the alarm.

He reportedly went swimming while drunk.

A 31-year-old man was rescued at Porge, west of Bordeaux, after bystanders saw that he was in difficulty.

Emergency workers gave him a cardiac massage before rushing to hospital in a serious condition.

A 30-year-old woman was rescued by a fellow swimmer on the same beach but did not need to be hospitalised.

Earlier in the day at nearby Grand-Crohot two teenagers were saved by surfers and taken to a clinic at Arès.

The average temperature in October on the Bay of Biscay is 19-20°C but last year the thermometer hit 29.8°C.

The highest recorded temperature in the area at this time of year was 32°C in 1985.
 

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