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Know when to fit snow chains

Law obliges drivers to fit chains on signed roads

Drivers have been warned of black ice on roads with only the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts escaping icy winds that have been sweeping down the country this week.

Sleet and snow is falling in the north and east of France and this afternoon could also see snow in Ile-de-France with a storm sweeping in from Normandy. Paris should escape due to the city heat effect.

High winds are also due on the Channel coast and Finistère in Brittany, which will face north winds of up to 70kph but the Mistral is expected to hit 100kph.

With temperatures continuing to fall and expected to reach 0C across wide areas, there is snow above 500m in the Alps and Pyrénées and above 300/400m in the northern Massif Central, drivers need to know when they must fit show chains by law.

Winter tyres give extra grip when temperatures drop below 7C but in snow drivers must fit snow chains on at least two driven wheels on roads where the blue ‘snow chain’ sign is posted (unless it says snow tyres permitted – pneus neige admis.

When fitting chains, drivers should wear the hi-viz jackets they must carry in their vehicle and, when driving, should limit speeds to 30kph to avoid damaging tyres.

A set of chains can cost from €40 upwards but the average price is around €300.

Snow socks are easier to fit than chains but do not give the same grip in deeper snow and do not meet the ‘snow chain’ regulations on signed roads. They cost from €20 to €120, averaging €50.


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