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Traffic jams start at dawn on France's heatwave-hit holiday weekend

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Nice when you get there - a woman sunbathes on the Bassin d'Arcachon, near Bordeaux Reuters/Regis Duvignau

Seasonal traffic jams started at dawn on France's motorways on Saturday as holidaymakers headed south on one of the busiest weekends of the year. Many left earlier than in previous years but they have not escaped long waits in sweltering heat.


By 10.30am there were 300 kilometres of traffic jams on Franch roads, building up from 125 kilometres of traffic jams shortly before 8.30am, mainly on the A6 "motorway of the sun" heading south from Paris to Provence and the Côte d'Azur, the A10 heading south-west and the A86 that encircles the capital.

Interactive map of France

The 8.30am figure compared to 90 kilometres a year ago, confirming the wisdom of traffic monitors' red alert for the whole country and an even higher black alert in the Rhône-Alpes region.

The roads started to clog earlier than last year, too, with the first problems being noted at 5.30am, two and a half years earlier than in 2014.

The journey was likely to be hot and sticky with the return of the heatwave that fried France last week but cooled down a bit this week.

Temperatures on Saturday were forecast to be 27°C in the Paris region, 33°C in Rhône-Alpes and 36°C in Languedoc-Roussillon, another popular holiday destination.

Traffic is expected to be lighter on Sunday.

Railway stations and airports were also expected to be packed on Saturday.

The motorists are likely to be less environmentally conscious on the road and when they reach their holiday destination than they are at home, a survey published Saturday indicated.

They will be less inclined to share cars or sort their rubbish, the Ipsos poll, commissioned by motorway managers Vinci, showed.

One in five admitted throwing cigarette butts or a pieces of chewing gum out of their car window and one in four said they had similarly disposed of organic waste, such as apple cores and fruit stones.