Two women sitting under parasols watch at three boys jumping into the water of a bathing lake in Bad Saulgau, southern Germany
A heatwave that smashed temperature records in northern Europe finally relented Friday but thousands of holidaymakers were snared in travel chaos that followed the hot weather.
At its peak on Thursday, the heatwave broke national temperature records in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands while Paris baked in its highest ever temperature of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 Fahrenheit).
The United Kingdom saw a "provisional" all-time record of 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 Fahrenheit) in the university city of Cambridge, the Met Office weather service said.
The mercury dived in France with outbreaks of drizzle as state weather service Meteo-France lifted "red" alerts imposed in 20 departments.
Travellers seeking to make their getaways also faced disruption, with flights at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports were cancelled and delayed -- some by over two hours.
Elsewhere in the British capital there was still travel havoc due to rails buckling under the heat and fires breaking out along commuter lines.
"You could have fried an egg on the tracks".
Woman run through water sprayed from a pipe at Praterstern Square in Vienna.
Finnish police issued a warning to motorists after a record number of reports of drivers crashing into moose who wandered into the road in search of water.
The heat "makes the animals move further for water, and they may cross roads," Captain Joonas Tikka told AFP on Friday.
In Paris, with public swimming pools overcrowded, many locals and tourists sought to cool off in public water features, notably the giant fountains at the Trocadero close to the Eiffel Tower.
"It is too hot to stay in the city in the daytime, there is nothing to freshen with. So for the kids it's very cool to have this place with water," said Norwegian tourist Yensi.
Paris was expected to see the mercury soar to as much as 41 or 42 degrees Celsius, breaking a 70-year-plus record of 40.4C (104.7 Fahrenheit) and turning the UNESCO-listed capital into a baking urban bowl.
The Met Office, Britain's national weather forecaster, said there was a 40% chance that the record of 38.5 degrees Celsius (101.3°F), set in Kent in 2003, will be broken.
A British record high temperature, 38.7°C (101.6 Fahrenheit), may have been reached on Thursday, provisional data from the UK Met Office showed on Friday.
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