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Traffic jams in French Alps as winter holidaymakers head for ski resorts

Trekkers at Mont-Blanc
Trekkers at Mont-Blanc Reuters/Emmanuel Foudrot

There were 80 kilometres of traffic jams in France early Saturday morning as holiday-makers headed for ski stations in the Alps. Anyone hoping to escape clogged roads by taking the train was in for a shock - there were strikes in several parts of the country.

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Traffic-watchers Bison Futé warned of a grim day on the roads on Saturday in the south-east of France as winter vacationers drove to ski resorts, while others left them to return home.

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Traffic jams started forming at 7.00am, officials reported, and by 9.00am there were 80 kilometres of tailbacks, all on roads heading for Chambéry and other towns in the French Alps.

The journey from the central city of Lyon to Chambéry was taking two hours and 15 minutes, instead of 50 minutes, while driving from Lyon to Grenoble was taking two hours 10 minutes instead of 50 minutes.

Traffic authorities advised motorists to avoid major roads heading for Lyon between 9.00am and 3.00pm but expect traffic to be running smoothly on Sunday.

Rail traffic in the Rhône-Alpes region was also set to be disrupted by a weekend-long strike against a planned reform of the SNCF rail network, although the company said that high-speed TGV services would be unaffected.

A flood and storm alert on the country's west coast was lifted on Saturday morning as a depression coming from Ireland moved south-east.

Four people were injured in accidents caused by high winds and 7,500 homes suffered power cuts overnight.

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