Motorists are being warned about long delays on French roads over the coming days as people enjoy a long weekend.
With Thursday (May 18) a public holiday (for Ascension) in France, many will hit the road on Wednesday for a short getaway.
Schools are closed on Friday (May 19) meaning workers can take the day off and faire le pont to the weekend.
Traffic on roads leading out of major cities is expected to be “very high” on Wednesday (May 17) and Thursday, according to the official road observation site Bison Futé.
It is expected to be far worse on Sunday (May 21) as everyone returns home. Bison Futé says it will be the busiest day of the year on France’s roads
It recommends travellers making unnecessary journeys should “postpone their travel” due to the volume of vehicles on the road.
Traffic warnings start on Wednesday
The report from Bison Futé highlights the number of travellers is largely due to the Ascension public holiday on Thursday.
Traffic warnings are at the second-highest level from Wednesday morning, as some travellers try to beat the expected delays by leaving early.
Roads (especially tolled motorways) leaving the capital are expected to be busy from this time, alongside major roads around Lyon and the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts.
Traffic warnings will last throughout the day, as already-congested roads will be made worse by those returning from work or leaving for holidays later in the evening.
Thursday will see the same traffic warnings in the morning, as another influx of holidaymakers leaves for tourist destinations – Brittany and Normandy are expected to see particularly heavy traffic, especially along key motorway routes such as the A13.
#InfoTrafic #Weekend | Le pont de l'Ascension va être propice à d'importantes difficultés de circulation sur l'ensemble des grands axes du pays - le dimanche 21 mai devrait être le jour le plus chargé de l'année. Si possible, décalez votre retour ➡️https://t.co/nYKxVMxAB6 pic.twitter.com/SRSb5wpc8q— Bison Futé (@BisonFute_MT) May 16, 2023
Sunday will be a ‘black day’ for traffic
These warnings pale in comparison to Sunday, however, when holidaymakers are set to return in their droves to towns and cities.
It is only one of two days in the year given the highest-level ‘black’ travel warning by Bison Futé (the other is Saturday, August 5), on roads leading into population centres.
Roads will be extremely congested “from the end of the morning until very late in the evening,” according to the traffic service.
Major motorways leaving towards large cities – the A6, A7, A9, A10, A11, A13 and the N165 – will be most affected, and traffic will be heaviest in the Île-de-France region.
It is doubtful that any holidaymakers can or will heed warnings to postpone or delay journeys, but for those not on holiday, Bison Futé has urged the cancellation of journeys by car, in an attempt to decrease saturation on the road.
You can follow any updates on the Bison Futé website.