PARIS: Exceptionally heavy snowfall brought public transport in Paris and surrounding regions to a near halt Wednesday, spelling misery for commuters after hundreds were forced to abandon their cars to sleep in emergency shelters overnight.
Icy streets were largely empty as officials urged people to leave vehicles at home following the 12 centimetres (almost five inches) of snow that blanketed the capital, shutting down some tram and commuter rail lines, and almost completely halting bus services.
Officials had opened 46 shelters in the greater Paris region for more than 600 people stranded by the snow, while about 700 had to spend the night at the Montparnasse and Austerlitz train stations in Paris.
Some 230 people were had to sleep as best they could at Orly airport.
Operations were still disrupted at Orly and Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport Wednesday, with some flights facing delays while other travellers remained stuck.
At Charles de Gaulle airport, officials announced over loudspeakers that all suburban train connections to Paris had been cancelled for at least several hours.
A dozen perplexed passengers waited outside a railway ticket office at one terminal.
“I tried to get into Paris by train. I was sitting on a train for half an hour and then everyone got up and left,” said Paul Farberman, a 66-year-old music industry executive who had just flown in from Los Angeles.
“They said there are no trains and no buses,” he added. “I love Paris. I would just love to get there and see it.”