Everything You Need to Know About Black Saturday

Brace for Black Saturday on French roads this weekend as geeks wonder if records will be broken.

Also, massive boulders smash Norway’s major east-west E16 to pieces, as driver massacres 19 reindeer. Foreign drivers claim majority of Iceland speeding fines. Tape cut on A9 to Spain widening. Stuttgart autobahn drivers warned off satnav.

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BLACK SATURDAY

Leave late and expect major delays.

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The first anxiety for drivers heading to France this weekend will be a repeat of passport queues at Dover.

Thankfully, having spoken to the British and French authorities this week, Port of Dover was able to say yesterday it does not expect severe queues again – though it does warn this is the busiest time of the year and drivers should prepare for some delays.

Being prepared for delays will be the weekend’s watch words as France experiences the first of two summer ‘Black Saturdays’, the busiest days of the year on the roads (the next one is next weekend).

Basically, traffic radiates from Paris – to the west coast, on the A13 and A11 but also the A29 via Amiens; towards Bordeaux on the A10; and to Lyon and Avignon on the A6 and A7 then down to Spain on the A9 – supplemented by almost-as-bad traffic heading back in the other direction, on all the same roads, plus the A8 Nice-Avignon.

Not forgetting the Mont Blanc Tunnel of course where three hour delays are possible towards Italy late morning on Saturday.

Broadly speaking, the worst affected roads are south of a line drawn across the country through Lyon.

Geeks are excitedly wondering just how bad it will get. The record was set on Saturday 2 August 2014 at a combined 994km of jams.

Last year’s peak was 980km (set on Saturday 8 August).

Evidence so far indicates the record could be under threat. Last weekend, Red Saturday, saw 559km of jams – when return traffic was not so heavy – compared to 510km on the same day last year.

As per the established pattern, peak traffic last week was seen at 12:07. On the busiest days, jams start to subside from the early afternoon (though there can still be substantial queues in the evening).

In practical terms, it means anyone crossing the Channel on Saturday morning should only start to hit the worst parts as they begin to improve.

Dutch motoring club ANWB advises its members not to set off for the south of France until 10:00.

Leaving extra early is not a good idea. As national traffic monitor traffic Bison Fute says, the first major queues start to accumulate from 04:00.

Bear in mind that the first waves of traffic leave Paris from late morning Friday and build throughout the rest of the day.

Sunday will be quieter but still busy on the major routes.

Trying to dodge jams by using alternative routes can be more trouble than it is worth.

By all means head south on the A20 via Limoges or A71/A75 via Clermont Ferrand, if it suits you, but last year they were both almost as busy as A10 and A7 while the A61 Toulouse-Narbonne is always delayed.

However, we would recommend N10 Poitiers-Angouleme-Bordeaux to avoid the notorious A10 Poitiers-Bordeaux stretch.

We would not recommend N7 as an alternative to the A7 Lyon-Avignon unless you were desperate to save the road toll.

You might though dodge central Lyon from Dijon on the A39-A40-A42.

If we were lucky/unlucky enough to be driving to the Cote d’Azur on Black Saturday we would seriously consider N85 Route Napoleon Grenoble-Grasse.

Keep abreast of the latest situation on 107.7fm which has regular traffic news roundups in English, or see real time info at the Bison Fute website (or its new app). Invaluable on the major roads in the south is Vinci Autoroutes’ delay graphic, tweeted hourly on Black Saturday. See also @SANEF_1077 for the situation in the north and west. @DriveEurope also updates traffic info every 90 minutes from 05:00, plus breaking news. Also see the latest FCO travel advice @BritishinFrance. Trucks are banned from French roads on Saturday (from 07:00-19:00) – as is ‘collective transport of children’ in vehicles with 9+ seats.

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the major east-west E16 route between Bergen and Oslo was shut between Voss and Gudvangen on Tuesday afternoon following a massive rock fall (see pictures). Work since then has established the area is now stable and the huge boulders can be removed. Unbelievably, considering the damage, it is expected to reopen within 2-3 days roads agency Vegvesen tells us. In the meantime, detours are in place – see a map, marked in blue - but Vegvesen warns drivers to 'take it easy', and allow extra time on alternative routes since some include ferries...

The major east-west E16 route between Bergen and Oslo was shut between Voss and Gudvangen on Tuesday afternoon following a massive rock fall (see more pictures). Work since then has established the area is now stable and the huge boulders are being removed. Unbelievably, considering the damage, it is expected to reopen within 2-3 days roads agency Vegvesen tells us. In the meantime, detours are in place – see a map, marked in blue – but drivers are warned to ‘take it easy’, and allow extra time as some alternative routes include ferries. Photo via @Vegvesen

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roundup: speeding fines in Iceland were up 20 percent in the first six months of the year reports Iceland Magazine, the majority of them foreign tourists. Last year, 60 percent of speeding tickets were given to visitors. Meanwhile, the number of traffic injuries and accidents involving foreigners grew by 140 percent 2014-2015. See all Iceland road info in English at Road.is… a driver in northern Norway killed a shocking nineteen reindeer in a collision late on Tuesday night says The Local Norway. The man hit the animals on the E6 motorway between Hammerfest and Alta. He immediately alerted the farmer. Tragically more reindeer may have been seriously injured but fled the scene… President Francois Hollande cut the tape this morning on a rejig of the A9 autoroute down to the Spanish border on the Mediterranean coast. The 9km stretch from Le Boulou to the border at Le Perthus will be widened from two lanes to three, including three 50m+ high viaducts, in a €180 million project expected to last four years. It’s part of the Plan de Relance Autoroutier, a stimulus project where motorway operators – in this case Vinci – agree to invest a total of €3.2 billion in the network over the next five years in exchange for contract extensions. The widening is also part of a wider redevelopment of A9, France’s biggest motorway project and busiest road in the summer, which includes splitting it in two at Montpellier, for through and local traffic, which should open at the end of next year… new signs on the A8 eastbound into Stuttgart warn drivers to ignore their satnav devices. Road works at the Leonberg junction have seen the left lane painted with a solid white line – i.e. do not cross – but drivers have been ignoring the line in favour of instructions from their satnavs, resulting in eighty accidents in the past two months, and regular long delays, reports ADAC. The road works should finish at the end of September.

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