A freak hurricane-force wind has struck the French capital Paris and much of the country's north, killing at least six people, say the emergency services.
A woman died when a tree hit her car
Tens of thousands of homes have been left without electricity.
The storm hit Paris without warning and lasted only a few minutes, but caused havoc there and across the north.
The storm caused delays at airports in Paris and brought some train services to a halt. The Eiffel Tower, parks and other outdoor facilities were closed.
The gusts of up to 130 km/h (80 mph) prompted the French national weather service, Meteo France, to issue its second-highest alert and warning against people using their
cars, says the AFP news agency.
Thousands of calls
One woman died in a western Paris district when a tree fell onto her car.
Several people have been injured by flying debris. Trees shook violently, and tiles were dislodged from rooftops.
The Paris fire service says it has dealt with thousands of calls for help.
At the world-famous Chateau de Versailles outside the capital, tourists were evacuated when trees began to be uprooted.
The state electricity company says a quarter of a million homes across northern France are without power.
In Normandy, a high motorway bridge spanning the Seine river was closed.
Meteo France has warned motorists that high winds will continue.