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EASTER

Easter weekend: France set for sunny spell and ‘difficulty’ on the roads

France is looking at a summery Easter weekend, with the mercury set to be much higher than the seasonal average, but on the downside traffic is expected to be "difficult" in certain parts of the country on Friday, Saturday and Monday. There will also be disruptions on some train lines.

Easter weekend: France set for sunny spell and 'difficulty' on the roads
Photo: AFP/Meteo France

We've got good news for any sun worshippers out there. 

The weather is set to be consistently hot and sunny over the upcoming Easter weekend, with France's national weather agency Meteo France predicting higher than average temperatures across the whole of the country. 

The average temperature across the country will be a balmy 25C, including in the French capital. 

On Saturday, the weather is expected to be sunny and hot everywhere, with just a few clouds over the Pyrenees and central regions in the east of the country.
 
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The weather forecast for Saturday afternoon. Photo: Meteo France
 
However, like in summer, there may be a brief spell of rain or thunder in the second half of the afternoon in these areas and near the English Channel and Mediterranean there will be winds of between 50 and 70 km/h.
 
The mercury is set to be between 23C and 25C in the shade everywhere except by the Channel, where temperatures will be slightly lower. 
 
These summery conditions are expected to stick around for Easter Sunday, with clear skies in most of the country although there may be a storm in the south of France at the end of the day where average temperatures will drop slightly. 
 
Also, it will be cloudier around the Mediterranean, where there will be a higher risk of showers. 
 
On Easter Monday, the storm risk will grow in the north of the country.
 
Traffic
 
Meanwhile it's unlikely to come as a surprise that the roads will be busy over the Easter weekend in France. 
 
Bison Futé, the French government's traffic info service, has classed the roads as orange, meaning traffic will be “difficult” across the whole of France, from as early as Friday. 
 
And it's particularly bad news for anyone planning to set off from the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France where traffic conditions are classified red, meaning the roads will be “very difficult”. 
 
Bison Futé is advising motorists to avoid leaving the region between 2 pm and 8 pm, as well as to avoid crossing Lyon from north to south, the A7 motorway between Lyon and Montélimar, from 2 pm to 8 pm and the A9 between Orange and Narbonne, from 11 am to 8 pm.

 
Traffic on Monday. Photo: Bison Fute
 
Saturday is classified as “difficult” across the whole of the country, with Bison Futé advising drivers to leave the big cities before 9 am (or before 7 am for Paris).

 
And Monday is also set to be a difficult day of traffic as people return home after the long weekend and has been classified as orange across most of the country except in the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France where it has been classified red.
 
Bison Futé is advising drivers to return to cities before 2 pm or after 8 pm.
 
The traffic info service also recommended avoiding the A13 motorway between Rouen and Paris, from 10 am to 7 pm, the A9 motorways towards Orange and the A7 towards Lyon, between 10 am and 7 pm, as well as the A43 motorway between Chambéry and Lyon, between 10am and 8pm.
 
Traffic will also be dense on the A6 motorway between Lyon and Beaune from 11 am to 4 pm. 
 
Trains
 
In terms of trains over the upcoming Easter weekend, there are a few services set to be interrupted. 
 
From Saturday April 20th at 2.35 pm until Monday April 22nd at 2.30 pm, services will be interrupted between Cannes and Arcs-Draguignan in the south of France in both directions.
 
Meanwhile the TGV that goes from Paris Gare de Lyon to Nice will instead terminate in the city of Toulon due to major repair works. 
 
Services will also be interrupted between Nimes and Montpellier in the south.
 
And the Intercité service for Paris, Limoges and Toulouse will have a reduced service from April 20th – April 22nd, with no trains running at all on Easter Sunday. 
 

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RELIGION

In shadow of burned Notre-Dame, Paris Catholics pray for Easter renewal

French Catholics on Sunday celebrated Easter mass in Paris in the shadow of the badly burned Notre-Dame Cathedral, praying that the landmark monument -- and along with it the entire Catholic Church -- can be renewed.

In shadow of burned Notre-Dame, Paris Catholics pray for Easter renewal
Photos: AFP

The fire at Notre-Dame six days earlier destroyed the cathedral's spire and two-thirds of its roof. The damaged building is now to be closed for years to visits and worship.

Deprived of access to Notre-Dame, regular worshippers instead lined up patiently to celebrate Easter Sunday mass a short walk away, on the Right Bank of the Seine at Saint-Eustache church.

Throughout, the service was pervaded by the spirit and hope of a fresh start, infused by the Easter celebrations commemorating the resurrection of Christ according to the Bible.

'Recreate unity'

The flames that devastated the cathedral were a “sign” said worshipper Marie Fliedel, 59, adding that she now felt a “renewal, a communion and a spirit.”

“I hope Christians react and take note of all that is taking place in this sad period and that this will bring us back together,” she said.

“This will recreate unity among Catholics. In misfortune, the fire will give strength to find ourselves again and defend our religion,” added Francois Toriello, 70.

The Catholic Church worldwide has been hit by a series of sexual abuses scandals, including in France where French cardinal Philippe Barbarin was handed a six-month suspended jail sentence last month for failing to report sex abuse by a priest under his authority.

Another somber mark came from the series of devastating bomb blasts that ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing more than 200 people, including dozens of foreigners.

'Courage, knowledge and prayers'

The Saint-Eustache service, also attended by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, was led by Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit who thanked the capital's fire brigade for saving the cathedral from an even worse fate.

“When, for a moment, we thought that the bell towers could also fall, these towers that are so well known throughout the would, courage and knowledge came together with the prayers of all the faithful,” he told members of the fire service, several of whom were present in the front pews.

Laurence Mahoudeau, 55, who had come with her husband to celebrate the mass, said she had her doubts over whether the fire would prompt major change in the Catholic Church.

“Notre-Dame is something that goes beyond our religion, it's historic, it is our heritage,” she said.

“I don't know if this will prompt a renewal. There needs to be time. We want a strong Church. But it must be something completely different after the suffering and the sexual abuse.”

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