PARIS - Spain, France and other western European nations sweltered over the weekend under a blistering June heatwave that has sparked forest fires and concerns such early summer blasts of hot weather will now become the norm.

The weekend’s soaring temperatures were the peak of a June heatwave in line with scientists’ predictions that such phenomena will now strike earlier in the year thanks to global warming.

The popular French southwestern seaside resort of Biarritz saw its highest all-time temperature Saturday afternoon of 42.9 degrees Celsius (109.2 degrees Fahrenheit) state forecaster Meteo France said as authorities urged vigilance from the central western coast down to the Spanish border.

Many parts of the region surpassed 40C, although storms were expected on the Atlantic coast on Sunday evening -- the first signs that the stifling temperatures will “gradually regress to concern only the eastern part of the country,” the weather service reported.

The baking heat failed to put off heavy metal aficionados attending the Hellfest festival at Clisson on the outskirts of the western city of Nantes, where temperatures soared beyond 40C.

Those who found the energy to headbang to the music were grateful for several water fountains on hand which sprayed them periodically. Queues of hundreds of people and traffic jams formed outside aquatic leisure parks in France, with people seeing water as the only refuge from the devastating heat.

With the River Seine off limits to bathing, scorched Parisians took refuge in the city’s fountains.

And at Vincennes Zoo in the capital’s outskirts, shaggy-haired lions licked and pawed at frozen blood fed to them by zookeepers, who monitored the enclosure’s animals for signs of dehydration under the scorching sun.