Chaos hits French holiday drivers

2nd August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Millions of French drivers faced travel misery on Saturday as the great holiday getaway led to traffic jams hundreds of kilometres long across the country

Paris - Millions of French drivers faced travel misery on Saturday as the great holiday getaway led to traffic jams hundreds of kilometres long across the country, transport officials said.

Around five million motorists got behind the wheel to start their holidays on one of the busiest weekends of the year on France's roads.

But more than 550 kilometres (342 miles) of tailbacks formed, with major jams occurring mainly on motorways in the south, according to the National Centre for Road Information.

Tailbacks started forming early as motorists tried to beat the rush, with traffic officials registering some 338 kilometres (210 miles) of queues by 7:30 am (0530 GMT).

Paris and the surrounding area was largely spared in the annual traffic chaos, the centre said.

Motorists also had to contend with soaring temperatures which hit 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) in the southeast.

French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, who also deals with traffic issues, on Thursday urged drivers to be careful over the weekend so that "the holidays do not end in tragedy".

He pointed out that the number of people killed in road accidents in June had increased sharply.

Train stations and airports were also braced for a flood of holidaymakers over the weekend.

French train operators expect more than a million psssengers who will travel on some 3,300 trains.

Airports in Paris are ready for around 900,000 passengers to pass through their doors.

AFP / Expatica

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