Emergency services were mobilised and reported road accidents in Brittany, Normandy and Maine-et-Loire with at least 28 people injured, although none of them were serious.
The ringroad of the Channel port of Caen was declared “impracticable” and drivers were advised to steer clear of it after a lorry crashed, preventing gritting. Drivers reported that it took at least an hour to reach the centre of the town.
Mid-morning traffic was badly disrupted on the A11 and A81 motorways in the Sarthe.
School buses were cancelled in many areas and public transport disrupted and the chill hit the Paris region and the centre of the country.
Forecasters predicted a rise in the thermometer in the middle of the day with ice melting during the afternoon.
In an accident not related to the weather, a seven-year-old child was killed and her pregnant mother seriously injured by a motorist driving in the wrong direction on the A75 motorway near Clermont-Ferrand.
The mother's seven-month-old baby was also injured, with a broken arm, in the accident on Wednesday night.
Police found no sign of drugs or drink on the driver responsible for the crash and are sitll inquiring why he was driving against the flow of traffic.