France: Record August Black Saturday Ahead

France’s nationwide Black Saturday in August will see record breaking traffic if this past weekend is any guide. 

Also, drivers in Spain are warned about an ‘unsolicited help’ scam. The Alp’s Frejus Tunnel reopens after an accident. A driver in Toulouse is fined for inappropriate footwear. Road transport fails to figure in Luxembourg’s EU Council presidency. Milan joins ‘the new orthodoxy’ of expanded pedestrian zones.

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FRANCE BLACK SATURDAY POST MORTEM

On course for record breaking August getaway. Even more drivers than expected leave early.

The queues at the Saint-Arnoult peage on the A10 towards Pars last night clearly show few drivers using the automatic toll tag lanes (right). Maybe the SanefTolling.co.uk tag – available for an upfront payment of €39.10, or with a €13 discount via Eurotunnel – really is worth having at the busiest times. See more.

The queues at the Saint-Arnoult peage on the A10 towards Paris last night show few drivers using the automatic toll tag lanes (on the right). It seems the SanefTolling tag – available for an upfront payment of €39.10, or with a €13 discount via Eurotunnel – is worth having at the busiest times. See more.

The first proper getaway of the Grandes Vacances this weekend saw jams far surpass those on the same day last year.

The whole of France was under a red warning for departures on Saturday while the Rhone Valley – the A7 southbound between Lyon and Avignon – was under the highest ‘black’ category.

Figures from traffic centre Bison Fute (via VID) show queues totalled 630km compared to 530km on the same day last year.

However, traffic was actually heaviest on Friday evening when jams reached a combined 678km in contrast to just 430km in 2014.

Both figures pale beside the 994km recorded on 2014’s nationwide Black Saturday, on the first weekend of August.

At this rate, the same day this year – Saturday 1 August – looks certain to crack the 1000km mark for the first time.

The total jams – compiled from every queue in the country – only really indicate the number of cars on the road rather than the delays faced by individual drivers.

From our observations there were no major holdups on Saturday. The southbound A7 delay topped out at 1h50, spread along the whole 230km between Lyon and Avignon (and accounting for 170km of the total jams says Bison Fute).

Nevertheless it is interesting that many more drivers than expected left on Friday, presumably to avoid the – well publicised – queues.

Lots seemed to travel overnight too as there was already a delay of more than an hour on the A7 south from Lyon by 07:00 local time. In line with usual practice, the queues overall started to decline at lunchtime.

It reinforces the truism about driving through France on the very busiest days: leave late rather than leave early.

Read more on driving in France on Black Saturdays.

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More than 1000 military firefighters deployed to five major forest fires around Spain last week. The fine for dropping cigarettes out of car windows is €200. More later. Photo @UMEgob.

More than 1000 military firefighters deployed to five major forest fires around Spain last week. The situation seemed to be under control by the weekend but more high temperature warnings are due this week. See the latest at the Emergency Response Coordination Centre. Drivers should know that the fine for dropping cigarettes from car windows is €200. Photo @UMEgob.

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roundup: SPAIN. Following last week’s warning about fake traffic police in the South of France, @BritsVistingSpain today caution drivers about timely ‘unsolicited offers of help’ following mechanical problems. According to the Daily Mail, BBC Radio Solent DJ Julian Clegg was driving in Barcelona recently when his tyres were slashed. Shortly afterwards a tow vehicle ‘miraculously’ turned up. The practiced scam includes garage staff who then charge drivers up to £1000 per new tyre. ABTA says drivers should always refer to emergency numbers issued with hire cars, or their own breakdown insurance. FRANCE. A tanker driver apparently taken ill at the wheel crashed in the Lyon-Turin Frejus Tunnel this morning damaging tunnel installations along a 200m stretch. The tunnel was immediately shut in both directions as power was restored and the driver’s load of oil was transferred to another vehicle. Cars were re-directed to the Mont Cenis mountain pass while trucks were held at parking spots until circulation was restored just after lunch. Meanwhile, a driver in Toulouse was fined €90 for wearing flip-flops reports The Connexion. Police said the footwear could come off too easily and get jammed under one of the pedals. TRANSPORT. Despite an ongoing debate over ‘social dumping’ in road transport – the rules governing the employment of truck drivers across the EU – neither that subject, nor anything else to do with roads, appears among the five transport priorities of the new six month Luxembourg presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. According to a rundown from Views.eu, the five subject areas cover railway liberalisation, inland waterways, aviation safety and drones, passenger rights and port services. Aside from new legislation, Luxembourg intends to prioritise cycling and will host the first summit on cycling in October. ITALY. Milan is contemplating a ‘soft revolution’ as it expands the existing pedestrian zone street by street. Along with new no-car zones announced or implemented recently by Paris, Brussels, Madrid and Dublin this amounts to ‘a new orthodoxy’ says CityLab.com. Initial plans in Milan include banning cars from the square around the La Scala opera house and the roads north to the already car-free Cathedral Square.

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