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CHRISTMAS

Strasbourg’s Christmas preparations up in the air as second giant tree cracks under pressure

Strasbourg's Christmas plans are up in the air after not one but two of the giant Christmas trees chosen for its main square were found to be damaged before the tinsel even had time to touch their leaves.

Strasbourg's Christmas preparations up in the air as second giant tree cracks under pressure
The installation of Strasbourg's second tree in Place Kleber. Photo: AFP
Every winter Strasbourg's giant Christmas tree stands tall over the city's picturesque Place Kleber and the famous Christmas market.
 
But this year officials are having trouble finding one that won't crack under the pressure.
 
When the first tree was being cut for the city's main square Place Kleber it seemed the Grinch may have been at work when it was discovered that the trunk was already split. 
 
Moving on to plan B, the city chose another fir tree from the same forest in the Vosges which was set up in the square on October 30th, but that one too seems to be cracking under the pressure. 
 
 
 
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Photo: AFP
 
The mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries announced on Tuesday that a split of one to five millimeters-wide and 15cm long had been found in the trunk of the tree during a conference on the security measures for the Christmas market. 
 
“Unable to say whether the crack is growing in size or not and whether or not it will be resistant to the wind, we have been forced to take preventative measures,” said Ries.
 
In order to solve the issue and save Christmas, the authorities were forced to move on to plan C. 
 
Taking no chances, the third tree is set to be cut from a different forest in the region, the Bois-de-Champs and will be selected from the conifers next to the car park of the woods to allow for easier access. 
 
The Christmas lights are set to illuminate the city centre on November 24th. 
 
And there's no doubt the city authorities will be hoping for some gold coins in their stockings this year with the replacement of the new fir set to put them back by €50,000. 
 
 
 

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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