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How the COP21 climate summit impacts Paris

When 150 world leaders come to town, you would expect there to be some knock-on effects. From free public transport to closed roads, here's how Paris is being affected by the two-week conference.

How the COP21 climate summit impacts Paris
Commuters cross an eerily empty Boulevard Malsherbes on Monday morning. Photo: The Franco British Chamber
Paris hasn't exactly ground to a stand-still as some may have expected
 
In fact, it's actually coping quite well, no doubt thanks to the extensive preparations that come when you're hosting heavyweight politicians like US President Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
 
Here is a run down of the changes in the French capital.
 
Public transport
 
Authorities announced that public transport would be free of charge in Paris for Sunday and Monday, in an attempt to persuade motorists to leave their cars at home. 
 
Police even said that people should avoid taking the Metro at all “unless necessary”. 
 
Perhaps thanks to the warning, the Metro was largely empty on Monday morning, so much so that Le Parisien newspaper ran a gallery with over 20 pictures showing half empty carriages on the morning commute.
 
Metro lines will be bolstered in real time to accommodate any potential increase in commuter traffic, noted the city's public transport chiefs RATP. For live updates, see their site here (in French)
 
Paris: Singing Metro driver hangs up the mic
 
Roads closed
 
Several main roads have been closed down and motorists have been urged to take public transport, and it appears to have made a significant difference.
 
At 7.30am on Monday there were just 12 kilometres of tailbacks recorded – compared to the usual 150 kilometres on Mondays at that time. By peak time at 8.30am, there were 21 kilometres of tailbacks compared to the usual 250. 
 
 A police officer stands guard over a closed section of the A1 highway. Photo: AFP

If you really have to drive, be warned that the A1, the A16 and sections of the western périphérique ring road are particularly affected.

The map below gives idea of which roads have been hit by the security measures. A more detailed map and key is available here.

Extra police
 
The conference itself is being patrolled by at least 100 UN security personnel and 300 private security guards. 
 
France, meanwhile, has promised to deploy nearly 11,000 police for the summit, of which 8,000 police and gendarmes are to carry out border checks, with a further 2,800 deployed at the conference venue north of Paris.
 
The police have already been busy, arresting over 300 people on Sunday afternoon when anti-capitalist militants infiltrated a climate protest in central Paris. 
 
Paris police detain 208 at climate change demo
 
'It's great for tourism'
 
Tourism chiefs in Paris insist the conference is a much needed boost for the French capital.
 
“It's the first time since the attacks that Paris will be on TV screens around the world for a positive region,” François Navarro, head of the Paris Region tourist board told The Local.
 
“It's the biggest event ever of this kind and this will be proof that we can hold it.”
 
Navarro said four and five star hotels to the north of Paris, near Le Bourget site and the Charles de Gaulle, are heavily booked up, but visitors shouldn't be put off from coming to Paris over the next two weeks with plenty of accommodation available.
 
Eiffel Tower turns green
 
And lastly, on a more artistic precursor to the talks, the Eiffel Tower was turned green on Sunday as part of an art project that will see “virtual trees” grow on the landmark to support reforestation.
 
While perhaps not as striking as the blue, white, and red light show from after the November 13th terror attacks, the green is still sure to attract some extra attention for the Iron Lady. 
 
Eiffel Tower goes green for Paris climate summit

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School buses cancelled as southwest France braces for more rain

School bus services have been cancelled a storms hit one département in southwest France - with conditions set to remain difficult throughout the day.

Storms are hitting south west France
Storms are hitting south west France. Image: Shutterstock

Firefighters in the Carcassonne département of Aude – which was formally placed on orange weather alert by forecasters at Météo-France on Tuesday afternoon – have so far reported no significant damage after a night of heavy rainfall. 

But emergency services remain on alert with the autumnal storm system set to deposit more rain over the area on Wednesday before it moves away to the east.

So far, more than 144mm of rain has fallen in the area between Durban and Corbières and 133 mm in Coustouge.

To the east of the Corbières’ region, Météo France has recorded between 130 and 150mm of precipitation, and between 70mm to 100mm at stations in Leucate, Sigean and Carcassonne in just three hours early on Wednesday.

According to France’s floods watchdog Vigicrues, several towns in the east and south of the département – Feuilla, Fraissé-des-Corbières, Saint-Jean-de-Barrou, Sigean, Port-la Nouvelle, Peyriac-de- Mer, Narbonne and Gruissan – are bearing the brunt of the rainfall. 

It currently has seven yellow flood alerts in the Aude, indicating a ‘Risk of flooding generating overflows and localised damage, or a rapid and dangerous rise in water levels, requiring particular vigilance, particularly in the case of exposed and / or seasonal activities.’

The weather conditions have prompted the Aude préfecture to cancel school bus services on Wednesday around Bassin Versant de la Berre, Bassin Versant de l’Orbieu, and Bassin Versant du Verdouble, and urge residents to exercise caution as they go about their daily activities.

The system has generated significant snowfall at higher altitudes in the Pyrénées-Orientales, Haute-Ariège and Andorra. Up to 1m of snow is forecast in areas exposed to the easterly wind.

The rains are expected to intensify between Narbonne and the east of the Montagne Noire on Wednesday, with storms developing as the day progresses. An additional 120mm of precipitation could fall in localised areas during the day before the system moves east towards the Hérault then towards the lower valley of the Rhône and the Paca region on Thursday.

Light to moderate rains will persist in Aude overnight into Thursday.

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