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France to freeze after storm kills one, cuts power to thousands

The rose window of the Gothic cathedral Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais of Soissons broken in the storm AFP

France is set to freeze next week, with temperatures between -5°C and -10°C in some areas, following snow and high winds that cost one woman's life and saw thousands without electricity.

A snow alert in the north and east was lifted on Saturday morning, except for in the Vosges and Jura mountains and the strong winds that have swept much of the country subsided.

But forecasters say the calm will be followed by plummeting temperatures, down to as low as -5°C and -10°C in some parts of the country and even lower where the snow has settled and in the north-east, with the wind adding to the chill.

Woman dies, power cuts

A woman died on Friday when a tree fell on her as she left her house to take her children to school in the French Alps, local police said.

Storm Egon, as it has been baptised, blew down trees, ripped roofs off buildings and broke power cables, cutting of electricity to 330,000 households on Thursday night.

Some 35,000 households, mainly in Normandy and Picardy, were still without power on Friday night.

About 50 people suffered slight injuries, according to Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux, and about 1,000 people had to be moved out of their homes.

Three out of four airports on the Mediterranean island of Corsica were closed for a period because of high winds.

More power cuts probable

Electricity supply company RTE warned that the big chill could bring more power cuts as households turn up the heating.

It expects to have to sound the alert on Tuesday, with an appeal to householders to reduce the amount of electricity they use at peak hours - 8.00am to 1.00pm and 6.00pm to 8.00pm - and switch off heating and lights in unoccupied rooms.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine appealed for vigilance to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning, falls due to snow and illnesses associated with the cold.