Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Paris snow: Even winter misery looks better in France

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Nellie Chapman | 09 February, 2018, 05:07

The Eiffel Tower closes from time to time because of strong wind gusts, but it's rarely shut down for three days in a row.

But tourists were treated to the splendour of the French capital covered in a rare coating of pristine snow.

Transport companies have put in place their "snow plans", but some are unable to run their services due to mechanical problems in low temperatures and the lack of personnel, with many workers themselves not been able to get to work in the first place.

Elsewhere, evacuations were under way mid-way through Wednesday for at least 900 of the almost 2,000 people stranded overnight on the N118 highway southeast of Paris, prompting anger from drivers who said the route should have been closed to traffic sooner.

Delpuech said 3,790 trucks were stopped, a move that contributed to decongesting roads.

One driver, Antonio De Lemos, told AFP he had been "stuck in the snow since 5pm" and spent the night in his auto.

"We ask drivers to not use their vehicle this morning", said spokesman Frédéric de Lanouvelle, calling the situation "exceptional" and "very complicated".

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said authorities had worked to prevent travel chaos as much as possible but told RTL radio: "We're facing an exceptional episode". During last month's flooding in Paris, the monument remained opened.

Up to 100 motorists were forced to spend the night in their cars after refusing to leave when the snow brought traffic to a halt.

About 5 inches of snow fell in Paris and its suburbs on Tuesday, according to Meteo France, the nation's official weather service.

Some 230 people had to sleep as best they could at Orly airport south of the capital.

Many travellers were stuck at the airport as train services resumed only slowly after being halted early Wednesday, and few taxis were willing to courageous the roads.

"They're saying the trains are running at a reduced speed".