Lonely Planet Writer

Parisians are skiing to work as a blanket of snow transforms the French capital

Parisians are taking to their skis to get to work, and also for fun, as the heaviest snowfall since 1987 has blanketed the city, grounding many other forms of transport. Residents and visitors alike are seizing the opportunity to head to the slope at Montmartre hill in front of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur for some winter sports fun, while others are simply donning their skis on the streets of the capital.

People are ski-ing on the snow-covered Montmartre hill in front of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Image: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

While some people are unhappy that the French capital is being disrupted by almost six inches of snow, others are thrilled to be able to ski or snowboard without having to go off to a resort. French police have urged people to leave their vehicles at home after the snow caused chaos on roadways across Paris. Emergency shelters had to be opened to accommodate stranded commuters, so skiing seems to be a logical transportation option.

The Eiffel Tower had to close due to heavy snow in Paris. Image: Alfonso Jimenez Valero

Some tram and commuter rail lines have been shut down and almost all bus services have been halted, including many school buses. Flights have been disrupted at Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports, due to de-icing operations and because staff are stranded at home, and approximately 230 people had to spend the night at Orly airport. A further 700 people spent the night at Montparnasse and Austerlitz train stations. Aside from the logistical headaches caused by the weather, visitor attractions have also been affected. The Eiffel Tower turned people away on Tuesday and Wednesday and is updating visitors via its social media channels around whether it will open for the rest of the week.

A snow-covered Place des Vosges in Paris. Image: Jean Marc Romain

Heavy snow is very unusual in Paris, and this cold snap comes after weeks of mild and rainy weather across northern France. It brought about flooding in several areas and pushed the Seine to more than four metres above its normal level.