Dramatic images reveal avalanche dangers in French Alps

Photos of a wall of snow towering above people and vehicles on a road that was buried by a massive avalanche shows the current danger levels in the French Alps after "once-in-generation" snowfalls this week.

Dramatic images reveal avalanche dangers in French Alps
All Photos: Data Avalanche
The snowslide blocked the road between Bessans and the village of Bonneval-sur-Arc in the Savoie department on Tuesday.
The avalanche left the 250 residents of Bonneval cut off after covering the road with between five and seven metres of snow.
“It's been 20 years since we've seen an avalanche like that in this area,” said expert Alain Duclos, the president of the organisation Data Avalanche.
But given the amount of snow that has fallen in recent days Duclos said such a huge avalanche was expected.
Data Avalanche
Data Avalanche
Data Avalanche
Avalanche warnings in the area had been at maximum level after the kind of snowfall that comes once every 30 thirty years, according to Météo France weather agency.
The avalanche cut access to Bonneval and authorities had to put in place an emergency operation to clear the road. Duclos was able to get some impressive pictures of the operation.
“Since the year 2000, avalanches have been triggered in a preventative way, which means we haven't seen an avalanche of this exceptional magnitude,” Duclos told Franceinfo. “But these are the mysteries of nature.”
Data Avalanche
Data Avalanche
Data Avalanche
On Wednesday, an avalanche smashed into young skiers at the resort of Valmeinier and left one 9 year-old girl buried. Rescuers were able to spot her just in time thanks to a shoe sticking out of the snow.
By Thursday the avalanche threat level had receded but at higher altitude the risk remains high. Above 2,100m the risk level is rated 4 out of 5. 


Schools closed and transport suspended as snow hits northern France

Large parts of northern France, including Paris, woke up to a covering of snow on Wednesday, with schools closed and roads blocked.

Schools closed and transport suspended as snow hits northern France
Photo: AFP

Snow fell overnight across northern France, from the Belgian border to Brittany, via the greater Paris Île-de-France region, which saw between 1cm and 4cm of snow.


Authorities in the départements of Yvelines, Essonne and Val d'Oise suspended all classes and moved to distance learning, although schools will provide a minimum service for pupils who cannot stay home.

School transport has been suspended in the greater Paris départements of Yvelines, Essonne, Val d'Oise and Seine-et-Marne.

In Paris, police advised people to avoid taking the roads as much as possible and the N118 is closed to all traffic, while vehicles heavier than 7.5t are banned from major routes across the Île-de-France region.

Bus and train transport in the region is disrupted, but Metro and tram services were reported as running normally.


Roads are also closed in Brittany, which has seen falls of 10cm in some areas.


Around 200 lorries are blocked on the N12 between Brest and Rennes. Another 50 lorries are blocked on the N164 near Carhaix and drivers are advised to travel only if their journey is vital.

In total 36 départements are on orange alert for snow, ice and very cold temperatures, they are; Finistère, Morbihan, Côtes-d'Armor, Ille-et-Vilaine, Mayenne, Sarthe, Loir-et-Cher, Loiret, Yonne, Côte-d'Or, Doubs, Territoire de Belfort, Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin, Vosges, Haute-Soâne, Aube, Seine-et-Marne, Orne, Calvados, Manche, Essonne, Yvelines, Paris, Val-d'Oise, Eure, Haut-Marne, Ain, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Hauts-de-Seine, Somme, Pas-de-Calais, Nord and Aisne. The alert is in place until 6am on Thursday.

Temperatures are forecast to remain very cold across northern France until the weekend.