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SECURITY

France to deploy nearly 100,000 police and soldiers over Christmas weekend

The French government has confirmed that some 91,000 police, military police, and soldiers will be on duty over the Christmas weekend due to the heightened threat from terrorism.

France to deploy nearly 100,000 police and soldiers over Christmas weekend
Photo: AFP

Tens of thousands of armed police, gendarmes military police and soldiers will be deployed over the Christmas weekend as the government takes steps to ensure the security arrangements match the heightened threat for terrorism.

“For the end of year festivities and notably the Christmas weekend there will be 91,000 members of the security forces deployed included members of the national police, national gendarmes and soldiers,” said Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux on Friday.

“The threat is high and our response has never been stronger,” said Le Roux on a visit to Gare de Lyon station in Paris to meet those employed to maintain security.

“I wanted to come to Gare de Lyon because this station will see a huge rise in passengers today and tomorrow,” he said. “I wanted to show the perfect coordination between the hundreds of personnel on duty  including the police, soldiers and security staff with SNCF and RATP (the Paris transport authority).

Le Roux said the security plan had not been raised in the light of the Berlin Christmas market attack, but slightly tweaked and reevaluated each day.

Following last November's terror attack in Paris the government mobilized some 120,000 members of security forces over the Christmas period.

Many soldiers and police officers will be on duty outside churches over the weekend to reassure churchgoers.

The threat against churches is considered to be particularly high ever since the jihadist murder of a priest in northern France in the summer.

Authorities accept it is impossible to protect all of the country's 45,000 churches but some 2,400 are placed under special protection.

Some 500 masses will take place in Paris throughout the weekend and many will do so with an armed police presence outside.

Police have been asked to contact parish priests to discuss security. They have been asked to report any suspicious behaviour and restrict access to churches over the Christmas period.

Some churches will apparently ask volunteers to act as security guards and are tasked with searching people, reporting anyone acting suspiciously as well as any cars parked near the entrance to churches.

The mayor of the town of Cannes has decided to bring in armed security guards to patrol at churches over the Christmas period.

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WEATHER

Will anywhere in France get a white Christmas this year?

A white Christmas might be at the top of many people's festive wish list but will it actually come true for anyone in France this year?

Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France.
Haut-Koenigsbourg castle in Orschwiller, eastern France. Non-mountainous parts of the country will not see snow this year. (Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP)

If you’re in France and have been dreaming of a white Christmas, you are probably out of luck. 

It has been freezing in recent days with temperatures falling to a low of -33.4C in Jura on Wednesday morning, but the cold spell isn’t going to last. 

Temperatures across the country will hover around the 10C level in most of France by the afternoon on December 25th according to Météo France, with parts of the country including Brittany and some parts of eastern France experiencing rainfall. 

By the afternoon on Christmas Day, the chances of snow look extremely limited. Source: www.meteofrance.com

On Saturday, there will be some snowfall, but only if you are high in the mountains at an altitude of 1,800-2,000m. On Sunday, places above 1,500m could also see snow – but this rules out the vast majority of the country. 

Roughly half the country will see sunshine over the weekend. The French weather channel said that this Christmas could be among the top five or six warmest since 1947. 

Last year, Météo France cautioned: “While we often associate snow with Christmas in the popular imagination, the probability of having snow in the plains [ie not in the mountains] during this period is weak in reality.”

One of the last great Christmas snowfalls, outside of France’s mountainous areas, came in 2010 when 3-10 cm of snow fell in Lille, Rouen and Paris. In Strasbourg, 26cm fell. 

On Christmas Day in 1996, 12 cm of snow fell in Angers – ironically, this was also the day that the film, Y’aura t’il de la neige à Noël? (Will there never be snow at Christmas?) was released. It had been ten years since France had seen such snowfall outside of the Alps and Pyrenees. 

Météo France directly attributes declining rates of Christmas snowfall to climate change. Compared to 50 years ago, even the Alps receives the equivalent one less month of snowfall per year. 

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