Nine European countries mark Ascension Day on Thursday with bumper traffic expected from mid-week onwards.
Also, all the booze and the route sees Gumball stalwart cry off this year. Not clear if drivers will notice reorganisation of official France traffic information services.
SUPER-BUSY FORTNIGHT AHEAD ON THE ROADS
Extra busy in France and – particularly – Germany and Switzerland.
With Thursday a national holiday in nine countries, roads will be very busy from mid-week onwards.
Ascension Day is day off in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden.
It kicks off what will be a very busy first half of May.
Traffic will worst in Germany on Wednesday (4 May) as drivers take off ahead of a long weekend.
However, after a quieter than expected Maunday Thursday before Easter – which was the busiest day of the year on German roads last year – it’s not clear if any records will be broken.
Much depends on the weather. Fortunately it looks to be improving considerably after snow in many places last week.
The large area of low pressure currently across Italy and the Balkans starts to shift further east leaving sunshine behind in west and central Europe according to BBC Weather.
Of course that could encourage more people onto the roads.
Meanwhile, traffic is Code Red in all of France on Wednesday – one own from the worst, Black – as drivers head off before the big return on Sunday 8 May.
Delays of up to two hours are likely heading from France to Italy through the Mont Blanc Tunnel on Wednesday afternoon/evening, and on Thursday morning.
Wednesday and Thursday will also be extra busy in Switzerland heading south – manifesting mainly as enormous queues at the Gotthard Tunnel – with the same expected on Sunday though in the opposite direction.
Austria just has one busy day, on Ascension Day (Thursday) itself, known locally as Christi Himmelfahrt.
Thankfully there are no traffic warnings in Italy until Pentecost, next weekend, but that’s another story, in many of the same countries, all over again. Coming up.
roundup: FRANCE. Traffic information services have been reorganised with the closure of the regional CRICR Centre Régional d’Information et de Coordination Routière offices as of today. It’s not clear yet whether drivers will notice any difference. The Bison Fute website continues to operate, with its mix of real-time info, rules and regulations plus its all-important ‘Jam Calenders’ which warn about the busiest days on the roads. Otherwise, responsibility for feeding information to a new, slimmed-down team at La Defense, Paris has been passed to the eleven DIR interdepartmental road directorates. These websites are actually really handy – also backed up by departmental InfoRoute sites (format www.inforoute39.fr, etc) – especially for mountain road openings, for instance, and they often have roadcams for the main road network (autoroute info will continue to be supplied by the individual road operators). The eleven DIRs are as follows, including links: DIR Atlantique, DIR Centre-Est, DIR Centre-Ouest, DIR Est, DIR Ile-de-France (also Sytadin), DIR Massif Central, DIR Méditerranée, DIR Nord, DIR Nord-Ouest, DIR Ouest and DIR Sud-Ouest.
WEEKEND TRAFFIC: not expected to be generally busy on the roads – no dire warnings for France or Germany for instance – but May Day holidays will see long queues at Switzerland’s Gotthard Tunnel on Saturday; it will be busy at the Channel (leave 90mins to check-in says DFDS) and there is a second-degree ‘unfavourable’ traffic alert for departures on Friday-Saturday/returns on Monday for Spain. It is also Orthodox Easter in the Balkans. With well below average temperatures according to the BBC, and storms in Mediterranean, fine weather should not add extra loads, plus there could be more snow on the way in the Alps.