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IHT Retrospective Blog: 1967: Cool to Spring, Parisians Begin Mass Easter Exodus


Credit IHT Archives

PARIS — Spring came to Paris today, and an estimated two million unimpressed Parisians prepared to leave town.

By train, plane, bus, and car, they’ll begin their annual Easter vacation exodus tomorrow after the mildest winter in 20 years. In their place, the early Easter will draw thousands of Germans, who traditionally descend on Paris for the holiday. To help the departing Parisians reach their destinations, 34,000 police and gendarmes were being organized in “Operation Primrose.” Their assignment: keep traffic moving and accidents at a minimum on the 182,000 miles of French autoroutes and roadways during the mass exit. Furthering that goal, Interior Minister Roger Frey announced that the highly unpopular roadside tribunals set up last August would be resurrected to deal with traffic offenders on the spot.

Amid cries of “roadside justice,” the tribunals last year took away the licenses of 354 drivers in three days. Police defended the practice by pointing out that 44 fewer people were killed than during the same period the year before. Half of the vacationers leaving Paris were expected to go by train, and more than 1,240 trains, including 475 extras, were being readied for the rush, which will be heaviest Thursday and Friday. Reservations were reported extremely difficult to get, both on trains and at hotels throughout France, particularly along the Riviera. The weather throughout France was generally full and overcast today for the official opening of the new season, but weathermen predicted mostly sunny skies during the holiday.

They also predicted that the unusually mild winter would coax the 400,000 trees of Paris into an early bloom this spring. Buds are already out on many of them. — New York Herald Tribune, European Edition, March 21, 1967

Source: NYT > World

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