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Winter storms hit France, Europe; flights disrupted

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

As you have probably seen on the news, snow and cold weather has hit large parts of Europe, including a good portion of France. Although Paris has been spared most of the snow, it is still quite cold here, in the low 20’s at night (-7 Celsius), more like an average Chicago winter day. But in other parts of France, my friends in Grenoble, Lyon, Annecy, Eastern France all report anywhere between 8 and 16 inches of snow, so it’s quite a significant snowfall. England and Germany have been hit hard, as well as Poland, Italy and several other countries.

You can get updates for France from Le Point where they say that likely 25% of flights at Roissy CDG are cancelled and 10% at Orly for Thursday. But they said snow will last another 24 hours in France before likely turning to rain. Authorities are having a difficult time de-icing and salting highways, so be careful driving in France. Here is a map of temperatures (Celsius) for Thursday in France.

CNN also covers the storm in Europe, and flights at airports like London Gatwick, Frankfurt and Munich have been significantly disrupted with cancellations and major delays (NB their 3rd picture is Lyon’s Place Bellecour). BBC writes that flights have been severely disrupted as well in Brussels, Vienna, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Geneva, Berlin, London Heathrow and Prague. Over 3,000 people in high-speed German trains had to spend the night in the train as they were blocked by weather. They too have pictures of the storm in Europe (once again with 4th picture in Lyon).

You can get travel updates for Paris airports here. Check with your airline as well and the airports for your cities. France24 has a comprehensive guide for travel in snow-covered France and Europe. High-speed rail like TGV in France has been somewhat delayed. Check Infolignes SNCF for alerts.

For French weather, check Météo France. Bundle up, save travels!

Lyon’s airport gets a “tram-train” link to downtown

from Rhônexpress website

For those of you who have traveled to Lyon and resented taking the Satobus shuttle buses from Lyon St. Exupéry Airport to downtown Lyon, you now have a more modern alternative that gets you downtown (Gare Part Dieu, the main train station) in under 30 minutes. You can read an article in French about this here in Le Point.

Rhônexpress is the name of the brand new system, and you can find out more from its website, in French. Soon you will be able to buy tickets online.

The line is 22km (13.7 miles) long, it shares part of its track with the T3 tramway of the urban network TCL, it reaches a speed of 100km/hr (about 60 mph) and each of its 6 cars can hold up to 76 passengers. The tram-train will run from 5am to midnight, with service every 15 minutes.

As the article mentions, the ticket price will be higher than the 8.90€ for one-way Satobus; a one-way ticket costs 13€ (round-trip 23€), but if you buy a booklet of 6 tickets, the individual ticket price goes down to 11€. There are discounts being discussed at the moment for students and families (as is the norm for most transport), maybe free for under-12, as well as special rates for a combo TCL-Rhônexpress card, and possibly an SNCF-Rhônexpress card or rates. As for a combined rate for flight-Rhônexpress, however, that is less feasible, as the article highlights, because in case one or the other is late, there would be disagreements about reimbursing passengers based on responsibility.

This article quotes authorities of the project who expect to have 1 million passengers in the service’s first year. You can also read a background article in English here.

In any case, this is a welcome addition to the Lyon transport landscape, and I know I’ll be happy to take it.

Until then, bon voyage!

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