Unusually severe winter weather hits French nationals and expats alike

Published:  8 Feb at 6 PM
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Expats in France are experiencing record levels of snowfall causing chaos on roads
around the entire country as well as paralysing other means of transportation.

Since Tuesday, record levels of snowfall not seen since 1987 have caused major disruption to road, rail and air transport, and motorists are being urged not to use their cars. According to transport officials, the situation is complicated and exceptional due to very low temperatures and snow piling up in both rural areas and cities.

On Tuesday night, some 2,000 drivers found themselves unable to move on Route Nationale 118, with most unequipped with blankets, water, food or any means of coping with the freezing temperatures. Reports coming in from those trapped and unable to move suggested there was very little or no assistance being provided by local authorities and emergency services, with no information as to how long they would be trapped in the whiteout. The vast majority were forced to spend the night in their vehicles, with evacuation efforts finally beginning the following morning.

Major travel disruption wasn’t confined to France’s road network, as train passengers in Paris found themselves stranded at Austerlitz and Montparnasse stations. They were given shelter in the stations’ buildings overnight, and some 600 homeless people in Paris were rescued and taken to the city’s homeless shelters. Tramway lines were blocked and bus services cancelled, with passengers urged to postpone their journeys. Taxis were in short supply, with Uber drivers doubling their prices due to heavy demand. Regional airports are struggling to cope, but potential passengers are advised to check before leaving home for their flights.

The unusually severe winter weather isn’t confined to France, with Spain getting more than its fair share of heavy snow and plummeting temperatures. Schools and roads are closed across the country and 34 provinces are on high alert. Sub-zero temperatures are hitting dozens of Spanish cities, lows of -10 are being reported from mountainous areas and Madrid’s airport was forced to close two runways.
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