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A warm start to the year in Europe brings people on to terraces and beaches

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By Mark Armstrong  with AFP
A warm start to the year in Europe brings people on to terraces and beaches
Copyright  AP Photo   -  

We may be technically in winter but many people in Europe are taking advantage of unusually mild weather.

Outdoor terraces in the Puglia region of Italy were in full swing on New Year's day and not just because of COVID-19.

New Year's day beach visits are a tradition in Sicily but swimmers usually wait at least until spring before taking the plunge.

“You have to do something crazy, especially with your family, that is the most important thing,” said one woman after her swim.

Swimmers were also out in force in Spain where temperatures broke records in six places including Bilbao in the north where the mercury hit 25 degrees centigrade on New Year's Day.

In France too, people in Paris have been taking advantage of the higher than usual temperatures to avoid indoor spaces and get some sunshine at the same time.

"Today the weather is nice," said one man walking along the bank of the Seine. "It's the first day of the year, we have nice sun, we have a beautiful view, we have the Seine. We can enjoy it and it's a little bit like escaping Paris for a while."

And some people have been escaping the city. At Archachon in Gironde in the southwest, the beach was busy on the first day of the year as temperatures hit 19 degrees centigrade.

Many people will be hoping the warm start to the year is a sign of better things to come in 2022.