PARIS: Skiers swished down the hilly streets of Montmartre in Paris on Wednesday, taking advantage of heavy snowfall that otherwise spelled misery for thousands of travellers.
Nearly 2,000 people in the Paris region had to spend Tuesday night in their cars, according to police, after the snow caused traffic jams that stretched a record 740 kilometres and left hundreds of others stuck at airports and train stations.
The icy roads of Paris were unusually quiet as police urged people to leave their cars at home after 12 centimetres was dumped on the French capital overnight, with up to 20 cm reported in nearby suburbs and rural areas.
The snow played havoc with public transport, halting almost all buses in the capital along with some tram and commuter rail lines, while heavy goods vehicles were banned from major roads due to the high risk of an accident.
But the wintry weather was a delight for schoolchildren as well as a gaggle of skiers and snowboarders who gathered at the Sacre-Coeur basilica at the top of Montmartre, the hill in the north of the city.
They managed to get in about an hour of runs in the morning on the steep slopes of the park that descends from the church before being chased off by the police.
"The snow is good, a little powdery, not as great as in 2010 but 2010 was historic," said Gilles Prunevielle, founder of the "Montmartre Ski Club", bearing a sweatshirt with the club's logo and altitude – 130 metres above sea level.
Tourists in the City of Lights found the Eiffel Tower closed for a second day, while the capital's airports were hit with delays and cancellations.
French car-making giants Renault and PSA meanwhile said they had been forced to halt production at their factories in the Paris suburbs as the ban on lorry transport left them short on car parts. -- AFP