Early winter snows forced French authorities to close the Eiffel Tower on Thursday and disrupted transport as northwest Europe shuddered under a pre-Christmas cold snap. Much of the north of the country awoke to find a seven-centimetre (three inch) blanket of snow, which delayed flights from Charles de Gaulle airport by up to two hours.
The Eiffel Tower was closed to visitors, and train and bus services were delayed in many areas, as daytime temperatures dropped below zero for the first time in the year and black ice coated northern roads.
Snow also fell in Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and weather experts forecast worse to come, with disruption especially in Scotland and northern England.
The northern Netherlands experienced the worst falls in four years, with snow up to 25 centimetres deep in places, the national weather service said, while all bus services in the region were cancelled.
In Belgium black ice turned roads into skating rinks, particularly the Brussels ring road and the motorway from the capital to Lille in northern France.
Numerous flights were cancelled and delayed at Brussels airport. Traffic Centre had registered 500 kilometres of traffic standing idle on the roads, with train, tram and bus delays making the chaos complete.