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Red summer traffic alert on roads across France this weekend

Last weekend was officially the worst of the summer holiday period on France’s roads - but this weekend is forecast to be almost as busy, with numerous red traffic warnings on place.

Red summer traffic alert on roads across France this weekend
Heavy traffic on the A7, near Pont-de-l'Isere. (Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek / AFP)

The country’s roads monitor Bison Futé has rated travel on Saturday as ‘very difficult’ (red) across most of the country in both directions of travel, rising to ‘extremely difficult’ (black) in the south east of the country.

While traffic levels on Friday and Sunday are less problematic, Bison Futé expects some issues, labelling travel ‘difficult’ (yellow) on both days.

Specifically, the watchdog advises the following on Friday:

Image: Bison Futé

Outward journeys

  • leave or cross the Île-de-France before 12noon;
  • avoid the A13 between Paris and Rouen, from 4pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A10 between Orleans and Tours, from 12pm to 8pm, and around Bordeaux from 4pm to 9pm;
  • avoid the A8 between Aix-en-Provence and Nice, from 3pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A20 between Limoges and Brive-la-Gaillarde, from 3pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Bordeaux and Toulouse, from 3pm to 9pm;
  • avoid the A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne, from 6pm to 8pm.

Return journeys

  • avoid the A13 between Rouen and Paris, from 5pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A63 between Bayonne and Bordeaux from 5pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A61 between Narbonne and Toulouse from 5pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the Mont-Blanc tunnel in the direction of France from 3pm to 7pm (waiting time greater than 1 hour).

On Saturday, Bison Futé recommends:

Image: Bison Futé

Outward journeys

  • leave or cross the Île-de-France after 12noon;
  • avoid the A13 between Paris and Rouen from 12am to 5pm, and between Rouen and Caen from 11am to 5pm;
  • avoid the A11 between Paris and Le Mans from 11am to 4pm;
  • avoid the A6 between Beaune and Lyon from 9am to 1pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille from 1pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A71 between Orléans and Clermont-Ferrand from 9am to 12pm;
  • avoid the A75 between Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier from 11am to 1pm.

Return journeys

  • return to or cross the Ile-de-France before 2pm;
  • avoid the A11 between Le Mans and Paris from 3pm to 5pm;
  • avoid the A10 between Bordeaux and Poitiers from 12pm to 4pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Marseille and Salon-de-Provence from 9am to 2pm;
  • avoid the A75 between Montpellier and Clermont-Ferrand from 12h to 14h;
  • avoid the Mont-Blanc tunnel in direction of France from 3pm to 7pm (wait more than 1 hour).

And, on Sunday:

Image: Bison Futé

Outward journeys

  • Avoid using the Fleury tollgate on the A6 in the direction of Provence from 9am to 12pm;
  • Avoid the A6 between Beaune and Lyon from 10am to 1pm;
  • avoid the A8 between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille from 3pm to 10pm;
  • avoid the A20 between Limoges and Brives-la-Gaillarde from 3pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A71 between Orleans and Clermont-Ferrand from 11am to 3pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Bordeaux and Toulouse from 16h to 21h.

Return journeys

  • return to or cross the Île-de-France before 2pm,
  • avoid the A8 between Nice and Aix-en-Provence from 10am to 2pm;
  • avoid the A71 between Clermont-Ferrand and Orléans from 11am to 3pm.

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ENVIRONMENT

Drought-hit Mont Blanc shuts shelters to dissuade hikers

Authorities in the French Alps said Friday they had closed down two popular mountain shelters used by Mont Blanc climbers because of potentially deadly drought-related rockfalls.

Drought-hit Mont Blanc shuts shelters to dissuade hikers

In a year marked by drought and heatwaves, rockfalls and gaping crevices have made access to the top of Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain, even more difficult and perilous.

The mayor’s office in the Mont Blanc village of Saint-Gervais, said climbers were in “mortal danger” from rocks and shards coming loose because of dry weather and dropping from a height.

“All day long, we still see climbers going on the mountain range, all the time, as if this was Disneyland or the Parc Asterix,” said Saint-Gervais mayor Jean-Marc Peillex, in reference to two popular theme parks near Paris.

Hikers had been advised since last month to stay away because of the danger, but “they just don’t give a damn,” he told AFP.

READ MORE: ‘To pay funeral costs’ – Why Mont Blanc mayor wants to charge climbers

The closure of the two mountain shelters — Gouter with 120 overnight spots and Tete Rousse with 74, as well as a base camp accommodating up to 50 people — was to “show clearly that there is no accommodation available”.

The authorities had warned for weeks that falling rocks were a danger, he said, adding that crossing the Gouter mountain corridor represented “a mortal danger”, he said.

Nevertheless, 79 people stayed at the Gouter shelter Thursday night, he said.

The shelters will remain shut until normal weather conditions return, the mayor said, probably not before early September.

Peillex had warned Wednesday that Saint-Gervais would require a deposit of €15,000 from each hiker, saying the sum represented the average cost of a rescue operation and a funeral.

He was, however, advised that French law offers no basis for such a move.

A lack of snow during the winter has laid bare vast areas of greyish glacier — yellowish where sand dust from the Sahara has accumulated — riven with fractures on the Mont Blanc.

The heat did the rest, causing the fragile snow bridges to melt that make it possible to cross the crevasses, as well as leading to landslides.

Following several heatwaves, France is in the grip of severe drought, blamed by scientists on climate change.

On Friday, 100 municipalities across the country were without drinking water, Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said.

Calling the drought “historic”, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne called a crisis meeting Friday to seek solutions.

Scientists say human-induced climate change is amplifying extreme weather — including the heatwaves, droughts and floods seen in several parts of the planet in recent weeks — and say these events will become more frequent and more intense.

The international community has agreed that climate change poses an existential threat to human systems and the natural world.

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