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Ascension Day holiday: prepare for heavy traffic on French roads

Conditions are expected to be very difficult on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday as people travel to and from long weekend breaks 

French roads will be very busy over the next few days because of the Ascension Day bank holiday Pic: Ken Felepchuk / Shutterstock

France’s roads are expected to be extremely busy at various points over the next few days, as people head for Ascension Day holiday breaks. 

Ascension Day falls this Thursday (May 26), and many workers will have chosen to ‘faire le pont’ (literally to make a bridge), also taking Friday off to give themselves a four-day weekend. 

This means that from Wednesday, conditions will be “very difficult” for departing traffic across the country, according to national forecaster Bison Futé. 

The congestion will continue into Thursday, before returning to normal on Friday and Saturday. However, on Sunday, conditions will be “extremely difficult” for returning traffic, as everyone begins the journey home. 

How can I avoid the traffic? 

Wednesday 

On Wednesday, Bison Futé recommends that drivers get out of the Ile-de-France region before midday and stay off major roads from mid afternoon. 

More specifically, you should avoid: 

  • The A1 between Paris and Senlis from 16:00 to 19:00 
  • The A3 between Paris and Rouen from 10:00 to 20:00 and between Rouen and Caen from 10:00 to 18:00
  • The A11 between Paris and Angers from 15:00 to 19:00 
  • The N165 between Nantes and Vannes from 15:00 to 22:00 
  • The A10 between Tours and Saintes from 11:00 and 19:00
  • The A7 between Lyon and Orange from 09:00 to 22:00 and between Orange and Marseille from 14:00 to 19:00 
  • The A8 between Aix-en-Provence and Fréjus from 15:00 to 20:00
  • The A9 between Orange and Narbonne from 14:00 to 19:00 
  • The A75 between Millau and Montpellier from 16:00 to 18:00
  • The A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne from 15:00 to 17:00 
  • The A48 between Lyon and Grenoble from 16:00 to 20:00

Access to Italy through the Mont Blanc tunnel will be particularly difficult between 15:00 and 21:00, when cars could be waiting more than an hour.

Thursday

On Thursday, holidaymakers are advised to get out of Ile-de-France before 07:00 and exit other big cities before 09:00. 

Bison Futé recommends that drivers avoid: 

  • The A1 between Paris and Senlis from 10:00 to 12:00 
  • The A13 between Paris and Caen from 08:00 to 17:00 
  • The A11 between Paris and Angers from 09:00 to 13:00 
  • The N157 between Laval and Rennes from 09:00 to 15:00 
  • The N165 between Nantes and Vannes from 10:00 to 18:00 
  • The A10 between Orléans and Saintes from 09:00 to 13:00 
  • The A6 between Auxerre and Beaune from 08:00 to 12:00 and between Beaune and Lyon from 09:00 to 12:00
  • The A7 between Lyon and Orange from 07:00 to 18:00 and between Orange and Marseille from 09:00 to 19:00 
  • The A8 between Aix-en-Provence and Fréjus from 10:00 to 13:00 
  • The A9 between Orange and Narbonne from 08:00 to 12:00 
  • The A20 between Limoges and Brive-la-Gaillarde from 10:00 to 12:00 
  • The A75 between Millau and Montpellier from 09:00 to 12:00 
  • The A62 between Bordeaux and Toulouse from 10:00 to 12:00 
  • The A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne from 09:00 and 16:00 

The Mont Blanc tunnel will be busy from 07:00 until around 17:00, with congestion peaking between 12:00 and 14:00.

Sunday 

As holidaymakers all return from their breaks at the same time, drivers are advised to get back into Paris and other big cities by midday to avoid hold-ups. 

They should also avoid: 

  • The A1 between Senlis and Paris from 15:00 to 19:00 
  • The A13 between Caen and Rouen from 09:00 to 15:00 and between Rouen and Paris from 10:00 to 19:00 
  • The A81 between Laval and Le Mans from 11:00 to 19:00 
  • The N157 between Rennes and Laval from 09:00 to 19:00 
  • The A83 between Nantes and Niort from 15:00 to 17:00 
  • The A11 between Nantes and Paris from 10:00 to 19:00 
  • The N12 between Saint-Brieuc and Rennes from 11:00 to 20:00 
  • The A10 between Bordeaux and Poitiers from 09:00 to 16:00 and between Poitiers and Paris from 11:00 to 21:00 
  • The A6 between Mâcon and Beaune from 12:00 until 20:00 and between Beaune and Auxerre from 15:00 to 19:00
  • The A7 between Orange and Lyon from 08:00 to 20:00 and between Marseille and Orange from 10:00 to 20:00 
  • The A8 between Fréjus and Aix-en-Provence from 10:00 to 20:00 
  • The A9 between Narbonne and Orange from 11:00 to 19:00 and between Perpignan and Narbonne from 10:00 to 18:00 
  • The A20 between Brive-la-Gaillarde and Vierzon from 11:00 to 17:00 
  • The A71 between Bourges and Orléans from 12:00 to 18:00 
  • The A75 between Lodève and Millau from 10:00 to 18:00 
  • The A61 between Narbonne and Carcassonne from 11:00 to 20:00

People returning to France from Italy through the Mont Blanc tunnel should expect delays between 12:00 and 00:00, with the traffic reaching its climax between 17:00 and 21:00.

Further information can be found on the Bison Futé website.

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