By Lyn Parry

After 36 hours of violent thunderstorms at the beginning of this week the wine producers of the South-east of France are desperately trying to save something from their harvest.

On Sunday afternoon the first storms erupted and by Monday the triangle between Valence-Marseille-Montpellier was seriously flooded, both motorways A7 and A9 were closed.

The Gard department is the worst hit and the vineyards around Orange were submerged with the vines standing in several centimetres of murky floodwater.

There are reports that some Châteaneuf du Pape producers have thrown in the towel completely on this year's harvest.

The French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin surveyed the damage by helicopter and offered, in the first instance, €10 of aid to the region.