A cold snap has descended on France this week, with temperatures in the north of the country expected to fall as low as -15°C. While extreme weather alerts for snowfall have been extended, torrential rains have caused huge floods across parts of southwestern France, with several other regions including Paris also under flood alert.
Nearly 30 departments were raised to the second highest alert level on Tuesday amid warnings of exceptional volumes of snow, black ice and extreme cold, with authorities urging vulnerable people to take precautions.
According to France's weather bureau, 5 to 10 centimetres of snow is expected in parts of Brittany, with some areas set to experience 15 cm of snowfall. The stretch from Normandy to Alsace, that includes the Paris region, is expecting between 3 cm to 7 cm of snowfall.
As a result of the arrival of a cold air mass, temperatures will plummet to record lows. The Paris region and Normandy, will see mercury levels dip to between -10 and -15°C on Wednesday and Thursday. The two departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais regions will temperatures plunge 7 °C below freezing point.
The cold snap has prompted the Paris City Hall to call on the government to trigger an "extreme cold" weather plan to create emergency accommodation for homeless people.
"It is urgent that the state triggers the extreme cold weather plan to open new shelters," Léa Filoche, Anne Hidalgo's deputy in charge of solidarity and social affairs, wrote on Twitter. "Today, all facilities are full, there is no room."
Torrential rains saw the Charente river in the south-west reached a record peak of 6.20 metres in the town of Saintes on Monday, with heavy flooding causing widespread havoc.
More than 300 firefighters, gendarmes and police officers, as well as Red Cross volunteers were deployed in the field to assist the 22 disaster-stricken municipalities in the Charente-Maritime department.
According to an official, more than 600 flood related interventions were carried out in the last few days with more than 400 people evacuated by the firefighters.
In the New Aquitaine region, which has been badly affected by flooding in recent days, Charente-Maritime and Charente were the last departments on Monday to remain on orange flood watch.
In addition to New Aquitaine, floods have also hit the Ile-de-France region with the Seine-et-Marne department still on flood alert.