Paris on Thursday baked in an all-time high temperature of 42.6 degrees Celsius as a ferocious heatwave smashed records across northern Europe, sparking concerns about public health and causing new misery for rail travellers.
As records also tumbled in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, Paris beat the previous top of 40.4 degrees Celsius set in July 1947.
Trains have been slowed in several European countries to avoid damage to the railway networks. French national operator SNCF urged travelers to delay journeys planned for Thursday, while German railway company Deutsche Bahn offered travelers a chance to change tickets free of charge.
In the sweltering French capital, authorities warned people to keep an eye on those living alone. At the same time, the scorching weather spelled misery for millions of commuters on public transport.
The heat wave, which was expected to ease up this Friday as rain and thunderstorms move in, again focused public attention on the problems caused by climate change.
In Britain, temperatures reached 38.1 degrees Celsius in Cambridge, only the second time temperatures over 100 Fahrenheit (37.77 degrees Celsius) have been recorded in the UK, weather services said.
It was still below the UK's all-time high of 38.5 degrees Celsius.
Those lucky enough to be by the sea could still enjoy the weather.
In the Netherlands, a new high Thursday of 40.4 degrees Celsius in the south broke a record dating back to 1944.
In Amsterdam, crowds jumped into a central square fountain, while municipal workers sprayed water on bridges over the city's famed canals to stop metal structures deforming in the heat.
On Thursday, Germany again hit a national record of 41.5 degrees Celsius in Lingen, western Germany.
The Grohnde nuclear plant in western Germany will temporarily shut down on Friday as a way to protect the environment, its operator said. Water used to cool the reactor is poured back into rivers and the shutdown is meant to protect already overheated river ecosystems.
Belgium on Thursday also reached a new record high of 40.6 degrees Celsius, on the Kleine-Brogel military base, in northeastern Belgium.
Two suspected drug smugglers had to call police in the Belgian port city of Antwerp after becoming trapped in a shipping container filled with cocaine, prosecutors said.