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

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French meteorologists report that snowfall accumulation in Paris could reach 10cms by the end of the day.

Regional train services were interrupted, leaving many commuters outside Paris stranded, while inner-city bus services were cancelled and some metro lines heavily disrupted.

Heavy snowfall in Paris has shut the Eiffel Tower and wreaked havoc across the French capital, with thousands of people trapped in their cars and in train stations overnight.

Police chief Michel Delpuech urged motorists "not to take their cars this morning so as not to exacerbate the blockages and to allow emergency services and the forces of order to intervene when necessary".

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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.

Elsewhere, evacuations were under way mid-way through Wednesday for at least 900 of the almost 2,000 people stranded overnight on the N118 highway southeast of Paris, prompting anger from drivers who said the route should have been closed to traffic sooner.

But tourists were treated to the splendour of the French capital covered in a rare coating of pristine snow.

The weather caused major gridlock across the city, with more than 700km (430 miles) of traffic jams recorded at 7.30pm local time (1830 GMT) on Tuesday, local information service Sytadin said.

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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 fearless the roads.

The greater Paris region is among 27 departments that have been placed under alert across the country, according to Meteo France.

"They're saying the trains are running at a reduced speed".

"I love Paris. I would just love to get there and see it", said Paul Farberman, a 66-year-old music industry executive who had just flown in from Los Angeles.

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