A temperature of 42.6C has been recorded in Paris, the hottest in the city’s history.
Meteo France announced that the record had been broken at 1.36pm local time when temperatures surpassed the previous high of 40.7C, reaching the new record shortly after 4pm.
It is the second intense heatwave to hit France in less than a month. In late June the country experienced a record temperature of 46.1C in the south of France, however in terms of average temperature, the current heatwave is already hotter.
The extreme temperatures have been caused by a heatwave sweeping across Europe, affecting large parts of the continent.
In Germany, an all-time high was measured for a second day running, at 41.5C in the northwestern town of Lingen - similar temperatures to those in some Gulf Arab capitals on Thursday.
Meanwhile in the Netherlands the temperature peaked at 40.4C, topping 40C for the first time on record, according to Dutch meteorology institute KNMI - breaking the national record of 39.3C set the previous day. Before this week, the national heat record of 38.6C had stood for 75 years.
Paris has experienced some of the hottest temperatures due to a phenomenon known as the "urban heat island", according to Meteo France.
This effect is caused by a lack of green space in the city, which causes buildings and roads to absorb heat from the sun during the day and emit it like radiators during the night. This means the city is unable to cool down during prolonged heatwaves.
Several other French cities registered record temperatures of more than 40C on Tuesday, including Bordeaux and Brive.
Many of the records were previously set during the heatwave of 2003, which resulted in the deaths of around 15,000 people in the country.
Five deaths have already been attributed to the latest heatwave, including a 33-year-old homeless man in Lyon.
French officials have warned people not to take non-essential journeys, while government buildings in some parts of the country have closed down.
In the UK, temperatures reached 38.1C on Thursday, making it the hottest July day in history and the second highest UK temperature on record.
Extreme heatwaves will become increasingly common, according to climate scientists, who warn that human-caused climate change made such events twice as likely to occur.
A landmark study published in the wake of the 2003 heatwave blamed human activities for causing the hottest summer in Europe for more than 500 years.
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