IN PICTURES: Snow falls across France

A total of 22 French départements were on weather alerts for snow and ice on Friday morning as flurries of snow fell across the northern and central parts of the country, including Paris.

IN PICTURES: Snow falls across France
Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

French weather forecaster Météo France has placed 22 départements on orange alert for snow and ice, covering much of the north and centre of France. In many areas this will be accompanied by strong winds.

They are; Haute-Vienne, Allier, Corrèze, Cantal, Aveyron, Ain, Isère, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne, Ariège, Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Creuse, Puy-de-Dôme, Loire, Haute-Loire, Somme, Seine-Maritime, Eure, Calvados and Orne.

In the Nord and Pas-de-Calais départements school transport services have been suspended on Friday, while the Somme département has imposed traffic restrictions on HGVs.

Many areas, including Paris, woke to flurries of snow on Friday morning, with Météo France predicting that the snow will continue throughout the day, moving from east to west and hitting Normandy by afternoon.

Posting pictures of the snowfall, many French people felt the need to point out that it is not a poisson d’avril (April Fool).

In non-mountainous areas, it is expected that the maximum snowfall will be between 3 and 5cm, while in many areas the snow is not expected to lie.

The cold weather follows an exceptionally mild period, and a generally mild winter, especially over the Christmas and New Year period.

The French saying goes Noël au balcon, Pâques au tison – Christmas on the balcony, Easter by the fire, or a mild Christmas is often followed by a cold Easter.

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VIDEO: ‘Lost’ Orca whale heading up France’s Seine river

A young Orca whale that is apparently lost has been spotted heading up the Seine in northern France.

VIDEO: 'Lost' Orca whale heading up France's Seine river

The young whale was first spotted about a week ago near the port of Le Havre, around the Pont de Normandie, while the most recent sighting was further inland – about 20km from Rouen, in the Eure region.

France’s BFMTV managed to catch a video of the whale:

Experts think that the young male was separated from his group, and might be on the search for another. This typically happens when a matriarch in the pod dies.

“They are very social animals, so it is not easy for them to be alone,” explained Delphine Eloi of the GECC regional, cetacean protection group to RTL. Eloi went on to explain that the orca is likely in poor health, as its dorsal fin appears to be completely round. 

Killer whales, which despite their name belong to the dolphin family, are occasionally spotted in the English Channel but such sightings are considered rare, let alone in a river.

“Its life is in danger. We are really very, very worried. Its state of health is very poor,” said Gerard Mauger, vice president of the GECC regional, cetacean protection group. 

“The more it stays in fresh water, the more this will accelerate the degradation of its state of health,” he told AFP.

“It is far from the sea. It is really complicated to find solutions to encourage it to head to salt water.”

He said the animal is “very thin” but likely weighs over a tonne.

Experts have reminded the public that the whale is likely not dangerous to people – there has never been a reported Orca attack on a human in the wild – though it is still advisable to keep a safe distance from it.