Paris grinds to a halt as rare heavy snowfall closes Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower closes amid dangerous weather alert

The Eiffel Tower was shut to visitors on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the heaviest snowfall, and Parisians were braced for several more days of snowstorms and freezing temperatures, with forecasts of -7 degrees centigrade on Thursday night.

The snowfall - up to 6 inches in Paris - also brought excitement, with some Parisians putting on their skis to tackle the Montmartre slopes, where the Sacre Coeur basilica is located.

Authorities in the Paris region raised the level of the snow and ice plan to three so lorries were not allowed to circulate on the region's main road.

The snow played havoc with public transport, halting nearly all buses in the capital along with some tram and commuter rail lines, while heavy goods vehicles were banned from major roads due to the high risk of an accident.

With roads uncleared, hundreds of people spent Tuesday night trapped in their vehicles or in improvised shelters outside Paris.

One driver, Antonio De Lemos, told AFP he had been "stuck in the snow since 5pm" and spent the night in his auto.

Delpuech said 3,790 trucks were stopped, a move that contributed to decongesting roads.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said the "lessons would be learned" after the snowfalls, but he defended officials' response, saying: "It's hard to know at 8 in the morning that roads will be blocked at 2pm".

The Meteo France weather service placed 28 French departments on orange alert, including eight in the Paris region, over the unsafe weather conditions and icy roads.

Some 230 people had to sleep at Orly airport south of Paris, while passengers arriving in the capital were greeted with delayed trains to the city centre and few taxis willing to courageous the roads.

Some 230 people had to sleep as best they could at Orly airport south of the capital.

"I tried to get into Paris by train". "I love Paris. I would just love to get there and see it".

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