Traffic jams of 180km as rail strikes force French to make Christmas getaway by road

The Local France
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Traffic jams of 180km as rail strikes force French to make Christmas getaway by road
People drive their cars on the Champs-Elysee avenue in Paris, on October 30, 2020 Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Traffic started building early on Friday around Paris as rail strikes forced many travellers to take to the roads - here is the French traffic forecaster's predictions for the weekend to come.


Traffic started building early on Friday in the greater Paris Île-de-France region as the roads filled with motorists looking for an early holiday getaway. According to the website Sytadin, 180 kilometres of traffic jams were recorded in the region by 11am, almost three times the average for a normal day.

With rail strikes forcing train cancellations, the situation on the roads was expected to get more difficult on Friday, a day after the region's key routes were clogged with 550kms of jams.

The traffic levels around Paris fitted French traffic watchdog Bison futé predictions for the days leading up to the holiday. This is what it has to say for the days to come.

Friday apart, travel on France's main routes will mostly be "green" over the holiday period - meaning at usual levels, with congestion on Friday, and Monday, mostly in the Paris region.


READ MORE: Will there be a white Christmas in France this year?

For those travelling by rail, there will be a strike running from Friday, December 23rd to Monday, December 26th. Overall, around two in five of the normal services will run with industrial action mainly affecting TGV routes. Local TER services, as well as city and suburban rail transport, will not be affected.

However, this could stand to increase traffic on French roads, as would-be train-travellers look to alternative travel options.

Here is what you can expect for circulation each day over the Christmas holiday weekend on French roads:


On Friday, the Paris region has been marked with a red warning (very difficult traffic conditions), as Bison Futé anticipates significant congestion for departures. For those returning to Île-de-France, as well as those in the rest of the country, traffic conditions will be green (normal). 

READ MORE: What to expect if you’re travelling to France in December

Bison futé recommended motorists leave or cross through the Paris region before 10am on Friday to avoid slowdowns and that they avoid the A10 freeway, specifically via the Saint-Arnoult tollbooth between 10 am and 3pm.


Screenshot of Bison Futé predictions for Friday

On Saturday - Christmas Eve - traffic will remain normal. Bison futé has not placed any parts of France under "orange" or "red" alerts for slowdowns.

Screenshot of Bison Futé predictions for Saturday

The same will go for Christmas Day on Sunday, where traffic will remain at normal levels throughout the country.

Screenshot of Bison Futé predictions for Sunday

Slowdowns are expected again on Monday, as people begin returning home from their holidays. While the majority of the country is expected to continue having normal traffic conditions, the Paris region has been placed under "orange" alert for slowdowns - both for departures and returns.

Screenshot of Bison Futé predictions for Monday

Tips for Monday December 26

The traffic watchdog recommends that those departing from the Paris region do so prior to 10am on Monday, and that those returning to the region do so prior to 2pm to avoid the most severe slowdowns.



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