Temperatures across Europe have plunged to record lows, causing travel chaos and putting more demand on power supplies.

In France, the normally balmy south was covered in up to 40 centimetres of snow, leaving hundreds of motorists stranded on motorways around Marseille.

The city's main St Charles railway station had to be closed after the signals froze.

The situation was the same across a swathe of northern Italy. In Milan, the city's two airports have re-opened after being closed for several hours on Wednesday. Flights have also resumed at airports in Turin and Bergamo.

Temperatures sank to record lows in parts of Germany overnight. A weather station in the eastern state of Saxony said the coldest spot was just below minus 27 degrees Celsius. Thick snow has covered much of the country and ice breakers have been brought in to clear several waterways.