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article imageSnowboards out as Paris gets first taste of snow

By AFP     Jan 22, 2019 in Travel

Paris got its first snowfall of the season Tuesday, prompting travel alerts for commuters but giving snowboard enthusiasts a chance to hit impromptu urban slopes.

The Eiffel Tower was closed as both tourists and locals made their way carefully along slushy sidewalks.

A man rides his snowboard down a slope near the Sacre-Coeur basilica on the Butte Montmartre in Pari...
A man rides his snowboard down a slope near the Sacre-Coeur basilica on the Butte Montmartre in Paris
Zakaria ABDELKAFI, AFP

Visitors to the Sacre-Coeur church in Montmartre watched snowboarders tackle the steep lawns running alongside the stairs leading up to the basilica.

At least one major road to the southwest of the French capital was closed to traffic for a few hours after flurries brought several centimetres of heavy snow.

Last year nearly 1,000 vehicles were stranded on the stretch of the RN118 highway, forcing almost 2,000 people to spend the night in their cars.

An intrepid fashionista stands in the snow outside the Grand Palais in Paris  where Chanel was showi...
An intrepid fashionista stands in the snow outside the Grand Palais in Paris, where Chanel was showing its Spring-Summer 2019 Haute Couture collection
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT, AFP

Officials were determined to avoid a repeat, and city workers had already begun salting intersections around the capital Monday.

The RN118 reopened in the afternoon but speed restrictions were in effect, and the road was due to be closed to truck traffic again from 9:00 pm (2000 GMT) as a new storm front approaches.

A homeless man sleeps under blankets on a bench as snow falls in Paris
A homeless man sleeps under blankets on a bench as snow falls in Paris
Christophe ARCHAMBAULT, AFP

Train operator SNCF had issued a "pre-alert" of possible delays for high-speed TGV trains in the region, and Paris commuters were also warned of service disruptions on some metro lines and dozens of bus routes.

The storm was spreading west from the Atlantic coast, with 24 departments across the north and east on high alert.

"It's limited for now, there are a few centimetres, up to two or three maximum," said Francois Gourand of national forecaster Meteo France.

Meteo France said snow fall was limited to two to three centimetres in Paris
Meteo France said snow fall was limited to two to three centimetres in Paris
ALAIN JOCARD, AFP

More snow is expected later Tuesday, with temperatures hovering around zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).

Gourand described a "classic winter episode" for the Paris region, but noted that the storm was a boon for ski resorts in the southern Pyrenees mountains, which had gotten scant snowfalls so far this year.

National forecaster Meteo France described it as a 'classic winter episode' for Paris
National forecaster Meteo France described it as a 'classic winter episode' for Paris
Lionel BONAVENTURE, AFP

"All of a sudden we're going to have one or even one and a half metres on average," he said, warning of avalanche risks starting Wednesday.

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