A Local Perspective: The Paris Floods

Due to record rainfall in past weeks in parts of France and around Paris, the Seine rose over six meters (almost 20 feet) since last Wednesday, the highest levels in over 30 years. The mass flooding has wreaked havoc in the city: Barges and houseboats on the Seine are flooded, the highway running along the river on the Right Bank is under water and the water is so high that all river cruises have been cancelled until further notice because the boats can’t fit under the bridges. The Louvre has been closed since Friday and the staff is feverishly working 24/7 to move 100,000 works of art located in the lower levels of the museum to higher floors for fear of water damage. The d’Orsay has also closed for the same reasons.

The good news is yesterday the water levels of the Seine receded slightly, but the bad news is we expect more rainfall this coming week. Fears are rising that with the additional rainfall, the effect will be as damaging as the great flood of 1910, when the Seine rose eight metres.

Saturday afternoon I walked to the nearest Seine bridge from my apartment, Pont Marie. Pont Marie is not a busy bridge pedestrian-wise, but on Saturday afternoon it was packed with tourists and locals checking out the swollen river. I always find it interesting that people are fascinated with disaster, although I am guilty of the same fascination. I went to two other bridges in the area taking photos. In some ways the tree tops struggling to stay afloat reminded me of classic 18th century landscape paintings of the French countryside by the likes of Watteau. It was eerie to see street lamps well as the stairways going down the Seine half submerged in water. Speaking of eerie, as I walked along the Quai de Bethune I noticed a green metal plaque notating the flood from 1910.

I wait with unease over the next few days to see what will happen but hoping the worst is over.  

Thanks to everyone who sent emails and Facebook posts concerning the floods and my well being.

Visit Richard Nahem's full site here to see a collection of all his flood photos.