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Driving to Chatel in 3 weeks - advice needed please!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi there,

Just need a little info if possible, we are heading to Chatel in 3 weeks time and will be driving from the UK, my question is, which route do I take? My head is telling me to head down via Reims, Troyes, Dijon, Geneva, Abondance and into Chatel, but every route planning program I have used is telling me to drive towards Dijon, then via Switzerland heading to Laussane, Monthey, Morgins and then back over the border and drop into Chatel.

So is the road road between Morgins and Chatel open in the winter, or do I stay on the French side of the border and take what appears to be a slightly longer trip?

Driving in Europe in the winter doesn't bother me - I spent 15 years in the military based in Germany and have travelled extensively through France/Belgium/Holland/Germany/Austria/Italy. I have also driven to Les Menuires, VT, Tignes and Val d'Isere before. I have been to Chatel as well, however when we visited previously we flew down to Geneva and then got a private transfer to Chatel, so am not 100 % which way to drive into resort - any info is gratefully received!

Andy
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@OuchMyKnee, I drove to Chatel today for GVA airport in a rental car and did indeed drive over the Pas de Morgins. The car sat nav was showing it as closed and trying to divert me through France but I ignored it. I believe it seldom shuts as it’s not very high at just under 1400 meters.

The other Chatel snowHead will be able to advise on best route from UK.
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@OuchMyKnee,
Yes - via Dijon Dole Besancon Pontarlier Lausanne and then over Pas de Morgins.

We have done it many times by every possible route. Above is the one to go for.

Pass very rarely closed but if snowy you will need chains or maybe will get away with 2wd and winter tyres.

And welcome to snowHead
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DJL wrote:
@OuchMyKnee,
Yes - via Dijon Dole Besancon Pontarlier Lausanne and then over Pas de Morgins.

We have done it many times by every possible route. Above is the one to go for.

Pass very rarely closed but if snowy you will need chains or maybe will get away with 2wd and winter tyres.

And welcome to snowHead


Many thanks for the response, apologies for my next question - despite
my experience of continental / winter driving, I’ve never done it with a car fully loaded (4 adults and 1 small child plus roof box.) The car is 2WD, but has winter tyres fitted and have chains if need be; having never driven over Pas De Morgins, can you still confirm this is the best route to head for?
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@OuchMyKnee, Pas de Morgins is not normally a problem. The section on the map that you can see with all the hairpins is actually at a lower level, and the Morgins to Chatel bit is normally OK.

Don't forget that you will need to stop & buy a Swiss motorway Vingette near the border somewhere around Vallorbe. Yes, this will cost you 40 CHF (I think), but it also saves a pretty similar amount of money on the French motorway tolls. The section of French motorway that you are missing out is sometimes busy and can delay you.
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@DJL, We've been coming off the French motorway slightly further south and going through Poligny, joining the route to Switzerland south of Pontarlier. Is your way appreciably quicker?
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We have driven to that area a number of times from Paris. If you can avoid the French motorway, I would. There have been some horrendous jams near Annemasse, and the route from Annemasse onward can be frustratingly slow. I have never seen the col to Morgins closed (though as there are some hairpins I can see why it might close in huge snow storm. However, it is very short.

I had a vignette from last year and I can't recall if you need to pay in cash (and whether euros are accepted)
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Yes, euros are accepted, and yes, you can pay in cash.
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Thanks all for the comments, most appreciated.

1. Vignette ordered online and paid for (€38 including postage to the UK)
2. Route: Eurotunnel - Troyes (A26), Troyes - Dijon (A5/A31), then route as per DJL has stated; although maps are telling me to go as per Matt1959's route (I guess I will do what the SatNav tells me!) Interested to see DJL's response to this alternate route.
3. Travelling through the night (midnight crossing on Eurotunnel as 4 year old in car and will be easier whilst he sleeps) - traffic problems 'should' be averted also!

Car is in main dealers at this very moment, so glad I have put it in - unknown to myself and the wife, glow plug was on its way out, EGR cooler bracket was cracked and leaking coolant and an intercooler pipe was split. Add these to the cam belt/waterpump change that it was booked in for, the bill is getting close to £1,000 already, but better now than on a French motorway at 3am with a 4 year old in the car - probably just cancelled out the savings on 5 people flying to Geneva and getting transfers! Sad
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@OuchMyKnee, Didn't realise that you could order a Vignette. I'll do that now as mine has run out!

Worth checking if there are any planned roadworks on the motorway between Vallorbe on the Swiss border down towards Lausanne. We arrived at 21:59 once and they were shutting it for roadworks at 22:00.

And the bad things on the car had happened already. You are always better off when you know more, even if it's about stuff you don't want to happen.....

Enjoy Chatel. I was there over New Year and am looking forward to being back in late February.
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Matt1959 wrote:
@OuchMyKnee, Didn't realise that you could order a Vignette. I'll do that now as mine has run out!

Worth checking if there are any planned roadworks on the motorway between Vallorbe on the Swiss border down towards Lausanne. We arrived at 21:59 once and they were shutting it for roadworks at 22:00.

And the bad things on the car had happened already. You are always better off when you know more, even if it's about stuff you don't want to happen.....

Enjoy Chatel. I was there over New Year and am looking forward to being back in late February.


As you say, the car repairs can happen at anytime and/or needed changing as per schedule anyway, so not bothered, but as I said, glad they were found now and in a main dealers rather than on route down in the middle of the night.

Looking forward to this trip immensely - was there in Jan 2014, stayed at one of my ex-military friends fully catered chalets - just me and the wife. This time, we're going self catering - taking 2 more novices (step son and girlfriend) and the 'nearly' 4 year old, who will be playing at Club Piou Piou in the mornings to allow me to encourage the wife into parallel turns (the last time we were there he was 'Zorbing' in her tummy whilst she was on her beginners lessons, although the instructor was not aware!!!!!)

3 weeks today we'll be seeing off, is it okay to get a little excited yet? Very Happy
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
We always drive the following route to Martigny and will be doing so again in a couple of weeks. It's the one that takes you over the Jura Mountains

Besançon→ Pontarlier→ Le Creux (F/CH Border)→ Vallorbe→ Lausanne

This is what it looked like at its worst in 2016, and everyone in our convoy got through fine except for the two cars without winter tyres (summers +chain guy gave up and turned 'round - too many thin patches shaking his car to pieces) and a big X5 that suffered the usual heavy SUV momentum problem at a corner (winter tyres, but it just kept going in a straight line at the bend. So heavy.). We were a mix of ordinary FWD, RWD and AWD vehicles of all sorts (but all with winters on as far as I could see).



All my SatNavs have been wrong about the best route to Lausanne from Troyes, until we're actually in Poltarlier. They don't seem to take account of it being winter or that the routes are more circuitous when they recommend various alternatives. So we individually target Troyes→Besançon then Besançon→Pontarlier and then Pontarlier→Martigny. This may be a side-effect of the BMW SatNav, but others have said similar. Now that Besançon has a ring road you no longer have to drive through the centre, which is easier, although there's a counterintuitive junction where it links up with the old road to Pontarlier.

At Pontarlier, the SatNav also continues to send us through the centre of the town rather than on the ring road. I have no idea why. It doesn't make much difference but you'd generally prefer the latter even if the former is less distance. So as ever, follow the road signs, not your SatNav. We often stop at the SuperU in Pontarlier (on the ring road) to get provisions (we're going into CH so this is cost-effective) and fill up with fuel at superstore prices. But be aware at the Swiss border there is an import limit on meat (stops Swiss buying bootfulls of frozen meat in F an then selling it in CH) and goods. THis shouldn't be a problem for you as transiters but worth just being aware of the limits in case you're asked:

https://www.ezv.admin.ch/ezv/en/home/information-individuals/travel-and-purchases--allowances-and-duty-free-limit/importation-into-switzerland/duty-free-allowances--foodstuffs--alcohol-and-tobacco.html


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Fri 12-01-18 11:49; edited 1 time in total
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@Matt1959, You can order a vignette from the UK @ https://www.swisstravelsystem.co.uk/products/motorwaysticker , price in GBP and UK postage. But sometimes early in the year they dont have any Confused
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
The Besancon may be longer/slower which is why the SatNav offers the Poligny route but it does have the advantage that a % is dualled and its a relatively straight major route compared to the other.
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BergenBergen wrote:
@Matt1959, You can order a vignette from the UK @ https://www.swisstravelsystem.co.uk/products/motorwaysticker , price in GBP and UK postage. But sometimes early in the year they dont have any Confused


Brilliant service. £35 and arrived in a couple of days Very Happy

Now only 4 weeks until we set of for Chatel and the anticipation is driving me mad Toofy Grin
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@OuchMyKnee, Yes, sat nav/route planners always recommend Poligny but as others have said I think Besancon is easier. You can also stop at the great little baker in Besancon (avoid the new road when you cross the river at Beure, head for the centre then go through the tunnel, turn right and the bakers is about 400 m further next to a KTM motorbike dealer as you head out towards Pontarlier).

The border crossing can develop a long queue at peak times but you hit this going either Poligny or Besancon. There is a way to avoid some of the queue by turning onto a side road in Jougne and following this down the valley but it can get a bit sketchy if there is a lot of snow.

If you have winter tyres and chains (and 2WD) you will be fine on the Pas de Morgins. In many years with this set up I never fitted mine.

Avoid any route via Annemasse at all costs!

Pontarlier Super-U is handy and there is also a well stocked Decathlon in case you forgot any gear.

Enjoy Chatel - this is my 28th year of at least one ski trip a year there.
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DJL wrote:
Enjoy Chatel - this is my 28th year of at least one ski trip a year there.
Picked up the keys to my flat in Thollon 29 years ago and did the inspection trip the prior winter during a ski trip to Chatel. Time flies, but I dont think much has changed in Chatel over the time. Lifts have been upgraded and some runs re profiled but its pretty much the same.
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@BergenBergen, Does the Vivien clan still run Thollon, or have they moved on ( or been imprisoned ) ?
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@WindOfChange, They're still building Very Happy but not so involved with the local politics, the new mayor is dynamic and has brought a lot of good things to the village. Think the brother is selling up the hotel side of things. After what happened at Drouzin le Mont is was a toss up between imprisonment or lynching.
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Our first few trips were as clients of Snowtravel when they ran the overnight bus from the UK - I still bump into Chris around the village from time to time, then DIY apartment/chalet bookings, then we bought in 1999. First trip to our own apartment was for the new Millennium and we've been coming back to Petit Chatel ever since. Certainly some changes over the years - lifts replaced, some piste re-profiling, much better snow-making now. Also English is now widely spoken - back in 1990 you spoke French or weren't fully understood in many places.

Still enjoy getting back to the place whenever I can.
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Agree with much of the above.

We've been driving this route a few times a year for the past 7 years or so.

We used to go the Besancon/Pontarlier route but more recently have gone the Poligny/Champagnole/Chatelneuf route which is a good bit quicker. We stop for provisions at the big Intermarches just outside Poligny or further at Chatelneuf which is pretty much the last chance before the border.

However taking this route, the Satnav can sometimes take you onto some very minor roads and you could be in the middle of nowhere for miles.

At night and in bad weather and with no prior knowledge of the route I would recommend sticking to Besancon/Pontarlier. The roads are more major.

I've also never known the Pas de Morgins to be shut. It's a very good road and I'd choose it over the road from Thonon any day.

As @DJL says there is a shortcut to avoid some of the queue for the border at Vallorbe but avoid this if it's very snowy as if you had to chain up to get back up on to the main road you'd be far worse off than if you had waited in the queue!
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Thanks for all the comments on this topic people!

Vignette arrived today from Germany (German Company actually produce and distribute on behalf of the Swiss) and it is now proudly displayed in the car window. Winter tyres and wheels now fitted, going to teach the wife how to put chains on (in the event that I am incapacitated!) over the weekend.

I now have another quick question about refuelling;

1. Where do I do it?
2. Is there much of a price difference between France/Switzerland?
3. We should be getting to the area around 8/9am having driven through the night - our tank range should get us there easily after filling up before getting on the Eurotunnel, but hearing horror stories about diesel - never thought of it before, but as this is our first 'driving' trip to Chatel, I will need to know where to get the tank topped up again before getting to resort.

Thanks again for the advice!
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@OuchMyKnee,

If refuelling in the UK before the tunnel, and assuming you are coming down the M20, DO NOT fill up at the Shell at Stop 24 - the services at jct 11. This will blow your budget!

Petrol stations near the M20 are Tesco at Ashford just off Jct 10, but the roundabout is chaotic 90% of the time, or go past 11a the Eurotunnel turn off to Jct 12 and there is a Tesco there - right off roundabout and then first right. Alternatively there is a BP on the LHS less than 100 yards past the Tesco turn. You do not need to return to the M20, but can get to Eurotunnel on the A20 and its about 1 mile and signed. Back to roundabout and straight over.

I've not done the route above - will be at half term - but I have read on another thread that there are petrol stations in Pontarlier and when last in Chatel a few years ago the supermarket (intermarche?) along Route de la Dranse had very reasonably priced fuel.

Hope this helps and save some snow for us Very Happy
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Fuel easiest/Cheapest @ the big LeClerc on the Reims Bypass (Just after the 2nd Toll) Signposted "Centre Hospitalier" IIRC - about 20C / Litre cheaper than on motorway - also a good Crescendo restaurant right by the entrance.
On our journey to Nendaz, it gets us all the way on 1 fill up.
Then, once you are close to resort, fill up with local diesel - wont freeze!!
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@knackered knees,

Yes, M27, A3, M26, M20 - normally head into Tesco to fill up as you say, services near the Motorway rip you off (I know you can get it cheaper on the other side, but we won't be out of the tunnel until gone 1 am, so don't want the hassle of filling then.) This 'tank' will be more of a top up as I will fill up before we set off. 65 litre tank and cruise control set to 80 should see us all the way down. As long as I can safely make it to Chatel, then the obvious is to fill up once there as they should have the additives in the fuel and it saves stopping on route.

Looking forward to driving through the night, last long haul was all the way to Dresden in the far South Eastern corner of Germany, only stooping for fuel - had my family snoring their heads off all the way over and only woke up when the sun rose!
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Quote:

cruise control set to 80

or 69 if it's wet wink
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@pam w, Why of course....... wink wink wink wink
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@OuchMyKnee,

With 3 mates we did an overnighter to Thollon a few years ago. Shared the driving, but the Hyundai van developed a fault about 10 miles into the journey and we couldn't go above 50 mph and often had to stop to reset engine/issue.

I had the joy or driving the section from Bourg en Bresse at dawn.

However when going over the hills and the speed falling off there was no joy with the lorries flying up behind in the crawler lane with nowhere else to go Shocked
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You know it makes sense.
martinperry wrote:
Fuel easiest/Cheapest @ the big LeClerc on the Reims Bypass (Just after the 2nd Toll) Signposted "Centre Hospitalier" IIRC - about 20C / Litre cheaper than on motorway - also a good Crescendo restaurant right by the entrance.
On our journey to Nendaz, it gets us all the way on 1 fill up.
Then, once you are close to resort, fill up with local diesel - wont freeze!!


I know prices are a little cheaper, but the idea behind filling up prior to getting on the Eurotunnel is so I can make the journey in one go, as long as I don't need to stop for a break, car has a 70 litre tank, with cruise control set it will achieve 700 miles, even with roof box fitted. a little over 500 miles to Chatel means I should get there on approx 2/3rds of a tank, then just need to fill up once there, as Knackeredknees has stated, I can fill up at the Supermarket when we go to buy our supplies!
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@Ozboy, has similar experience last week with satnav and Morgins Pas. She kept trying to turn us around or send to different alternatives. She finally gave up and consented to send us over the pass when about 5 k away.
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knackered knees wrote:
@OuchMyKnee,

With 3 mates we did an overnighter to Thollon a few years ago. Shared the driving, but the Hyundai van developed a fault about 10 miles into the journey and we couldn't go above 50 mph and often had to stop to reset engine/issue.

I had the joy or driving the section from Bourg en Bresse at dawn.

However when going over the hills and the speed falling off there was no joy with the lorries flying up behind in the crawler lane with nowhere else to go Shocked


I feel your pain, I have an 11 year old beat up commuter that I use to get to work and back in. It has sported an Engine Speed Sensor fault for the past 3 months that puts it into limp mode and you can't rev over 3k. Strangely enough, if you keep your foot down in 5th, as soon as it hits 3k it cancels and away you go, but it does mean you are hitting 85+ mph .... on private/closed roads of course!
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OuchMyKnee wrote:
martinperry wrote:
Fuel easiest/Cheapest @ the big LeClerc on the Reims Bypass (Just after the 2nd Toll) Signposted "Centre Hospitalier" IIRC - about 20C / Litre cheaper than on motorway - also a good Crescendo restaurant right by the entrance.
On our journey to Nendaz, it gets us all the way on 1 fill up.
Then, once you are close to resort, fill up with local diesel - wont freeze!!


I know prices are a little cheaper, but the idea behind filling up prior to getting on the Eurotunnel is so I can make the journey in one go, as long as I don't need to stop for a break, car has a 70 litre tank, with cruise control set it will achieve 700 miles, even with roof box fitted. a little over 500 miles to Chatel means I should get there on approx 2/3rds of a tank, then just need to fill up once there, as Knackeredknees has stated, I can fill up at the Supermarket when we go to buy our supplies!



You are a harder man than me!!
The 2.5 hour stint to Reims normally leaves me ready for a leg stretch.
I wouldnt view doing the whole run non stop as well advised at all.
Diesel is about E1.25 / L at Leclerc, so 20 p/ L cheaper than UK as well
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martinperry wrote:
OuchMyKnee wrote:
martinperry wrote:
Fuel easiest/Cheapest @ the big LeClerc on the Reims Bypass (Just after the 2nd Toll) Signposted "Centre Hospitalier" IIRC - about 20C / Litre cheaper than on motorway - also a good Crescendo restaurant right by the entrance.
On our journey to Nendaz, it gets us all the way on 1 fill up.
Then, once you are close to resort, fill up with local diesel - wont freeze!!


I know prices are a little cheaper, but the idea behind filling up prior to getting on the Eurotunnel is so I can make the journey in one go, as long as I don't need to stop for a break, car has a 70 litre tank, with cruise control set it will achieve 700 miles, even with roof box fitted. a little over 500 miles to Chatel means I should get there on approx 2/3rds of a tank, then just need to fill up once there, as Knackeredknees has stated, I can fill up at the Supermarket when we go to buy our supplies!



You are a harder man than me!!
The 2.5 hour stint to Reims normally leaves me ready for a leg stretch.
I wouldnt view doing the whole run non stop as well advised at all.
Diesel is about E1.25 / L at Leclerc, so 20 p/ L cheaper than UK as well


I rode from Portsmouth to Venice non-stop (excluding the ferry crossing) on an unfaired 1200 cc bike back in 1997 - only stopping for fuel for the machine and myself - that was an experience! I used to drive/ride from Calais to Bergen-Hohne Military base whilst posted in Germany, again only stopping for fuel and a pee break if required! So used to driving long distances it comes second nature. If I do get a little jaded then yes, stop and have a coffee break, fresh air and leg stretch and then back on it!
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I usually do the drive to Montalbert with one fuel stop at Chambery or Albertville which ensures winter diesel in the tank. 12 / 13 hours door to door (going across Tunnel) is average. Cruise control set most of the way, use the 30kph telepeage gates and avoid Lyon using the A432. My wife drives the 'boring bits' usually 2 to 3 hours at a time.
Lunch is a quick make a cup of tea stop and driver change and eat on the move. Its not part of the holiday just a means to get there snowHead
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sarah wrote:

I've also never known the Pas de Morgins to be shut. It's a very good road and I'd choose it over the road from Thonon any day.



I'm eating my words Shocked

Not exactly the Pas but the roads from Monthey to Morgins are currently shut due to flooding, landslides, mudslides etc. So access to Chatel from the Swiss motorway via Monthey is currently not possible. You have to continue all the way around the lake to St Gingolphe if approaching from this side. Otherwise it's French side and in via Thonon les Bains.

Just a warning to keep an eye on things with this crazy weather.
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Live col status:
http://www.sport-passion.fr/parcours/etat-cols.php

Live fuel prices:
https://www.prix-carburants.gouv.fr/
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The St Gingolphe route is not immune to the odd rockfall and closure. Found out the hard way one year and had to divert via Chatel back to Thollon, not the sort of thing you want after a 9 hour drive. If you do take the St Gingolphe route, there is a short cut at Lugrin up and over to Chevenoz.
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altis wrote:
Live col status:
http://www.sport-passion.fr/parcours/etat-cols.php

Live fuel prices:
https://www.prix-carburants.gouv.fr/


Thanks, I wish I could see that in English or German, my French is non-existent! Embarassed
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@BergenBergen, +1 Lugrin, super pretty over the plateau de Gavot too.
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Apparently been reopened now.
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