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Snow shuts Eiffel Tower as winter blast hits France

media People use umbrellas to take cover from falling snow near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, as winter weather with snow and freezing temperatures arrive in France, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The Eiffel Tower turned away tourists on Tuesday as snow swept across northern France, snarling trains and giving the capital its first real dose of wintry weather this season.

The Meteo France weather service put the greater Paris region on alert for snow and black ice on roads, among 36 departments on alert across the country.

Snow had already dusted Paris on Monday before quickly melting away, though more has settled in its suburbs.

But Meteo France says the snowfall will intensify Wednesday evening, leaving three to 10 centimetres (one to four inches) in most areas on alert -- conditions that could cause headaches for commuters.

"This will be the first blast of winter, late but the real thing, with cold air from Scandinavia colliding with a perturbation coming up from the south," said forecaster Sebastien Leas.

Rail operator SNCF has had to slow down trains on several of its high-speed TGV lines, with service disrupted across much of northern France.

The cold snap marks a sharp contrast from the weeks of mild and rainy weather across northern France in recent weeks, prompting flooding in several areas and pushing the Seine River to more than four metres above its normal levels as it flows through the capital.

That forced the closure of Paris station along a main RER commuter line, which will not be reopened until Saturday at the earliest.

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