On the 7th of January 2009, a blizzard descended on the south of France. I left Paris on that Wednesday for Uzès, and was caught in the middle of that terrible snowstorm on the highway. Just after 3pm, traffic ground to a halt caused by a 22-car accident, involving 12 cars and ten trucks. We were at a standstill for about 4 hours because of that accident and the closing of the A7 autoroute at Montélimar (the chasse-neige vehicles hadn’t passed from that point).

Two lanes of trucks were told not to move by the gendarmes (the truck-drivers most probably passed the night in their trucks in the middle of the highway — a comment by a truck driver on a French article on the internet about that accident said that he had no water to drink during that entire time), while cars were allowed to go on the passing lane. We had to exit at Montélimar and take the national road (N7), the road conditions of which was worse than the A7, with some areas covered in ice. We passed a car in the ditch with its wheels in the air, another stuck against the railing with its back wheels turning like mad, and another with its battery dead.

After driving two hours at 35-50km/hr, I decided to return on the A7. I reasoned that if it were impassable, they would have closed the A7 entrance. The highway road condition was good on one lane, the other two lanes were covered with snow and ice. It therefore took 8 hours to go from Valence to Uzès, what normally should take an hour and a half. I also considered staying at a hotel in Montélimar, but all the hotels I passed were full (judging from the jam-packed parking lots).

It took me a total of 14 hours from Paris to Uzès, what normally should take about 7 1/2 hours (with an hour stop for lunch). On the news, the Languedoc-Rousillon region was the worst-hit area of the blizzard.


Aerial photo is from Le Post. Click on the image to read the article.