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France weather LATEST: Freezing temperatures cause further travel disruption in Paris

Sub-zero temperatures and the dangers of black ice meant commuters and people travelling around Paris faced further disruption on Thursday with roads, train services and flights all hit. While there was no more snow overnight Paris faced further travel delays and disruption on Thursday.

France weather LATEST: Freezing temperatures cause further travel disruption in Paris
Photos: AFP

There were clear blue skies over Paris on Thursday morning but that meant temperatures dropped to below freezing.

The Mercury dropped to -2C in Paris and -4C at the airports Paris CDG and Orly which meant the snow and slush left over from Wednesday morning froze overnight. Ice was the new concern for authorities.

In total, 27 departments, largely in central and northern France were on orange alert due to more snow forecast on on Friday.

Map: Meteo France

Meteo France, the country's weather service said the cold and the freezing of the snow and slush mean there was a real danger of vehicles skidding on black ice in the French capital.

Paris police have once again urged motorists across the whole of the Île-de-France region around Paris not to drive on Thursday to avoid further chaos on the roads which saw a record length of traffic jams on Tuesday evening.

Some roads such as the N118 to the south of Paris remain closed, with around 80 abandoned vehicles still to be cleared.

Lorries remain banned from using the main highways around the greater Paris region which has infuriated truck drivers. Most have had to sleep in their trucks on the hard shoulder until police give them the all clear.

The situation had improved slightly on the rails, with SNCF saying two out of three trains would be operating on Thursday compared to only 50 percent on Wednesday. 

The high speed TGV services were running but passengers were warned to expected delays due to speed limits imposed on the trains due to the freezing temperatures.

SNCF say the risk of ice blocks forming on the trains and becoming dislodged means speed limits have to be reduced to between 160km/h and 220km/h from the normal speed of 320 km/h.

On Wednesday ¨Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo admitted the capital had a “problem” with “the great vulnerability of transport networks.”

“All public services throughout the region need to be far better prepared for exceptional events,” she told French television.

In Paris most Metro lines were running as normal but passengers were warned lines 6,8, 10 and 12 were not operating a full service. RER train services on lines A, E and B, which links Paris to the two airports should be running as normal according to transport chiefs.

Passengers using the the RER C and D faced slight delays however.

Te OrlyVal shuttle service that links  the RER B to the two Orly airport terminals was not operating on Thursday morning however.

Bus services which were suspended altogether in the capital on Tuesday afternoon were due to get back up and running on Wednesday throughout the day but that all depends on whether the roads are salted and safe to navigate.

Tram services should operate as normal.

On Wednesday Air France announced it was suspending dozens of flights from Paris airports. Passengers are advised to check with the airline before making their way to Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports on Thursday.

Forecasters have also confirmed on Thursday that more snow is expected to fall over the Paris region on Friday with between 3cm and 7cm predicted.

READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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