Paris readies for floods as Seine surges larger


The swollen Seine peaked Monday at more than four meters above its normal level after almost 1,500 people were forced to evacuate from their homes.

The river reached 5.7 metres at 9:00 am (local time) today, more than four metres above its normal height, causing headaches for commuters as well as people living near its overflowing banks. The levels should remain stable for about 24 hours before receding very slowly from tomorrow Tuesday,"it added".

Unusually heavy rains have engorged the Seine and other rivers in the region, forcing a halt to all boat traffic in Paris, including tourist cruises.

Eleven departments - Saône-et-Loire, Aube, Marne, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Yvelines, Val-d' Oise, Eure - have been kept on orange alert for river floods.

That's lower than the last serious flooding in June 2016 when water levels reached 6.1 meters (about 20 feet) and riverside museums were forced to move artwork from their basements.

A statue of an Algerian French army soldier from the Crimean war named Zouave that has guarded the river at the Pont d'Alma bridge since 1910 was drenched up to the thighs.

Police again warned flooding aficionados against bathing or canoeing in the river, saying it was "forbidden and extremely dangerous".

The December-January period is now the third-wettest on record since data collection began in 1900, according to France's meteorological service.

The rail operator SNCF made a decision to keep closed till February 5 the RER C commuter line that runs along the river and is used by tourists to reach the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral and Versailles.

"Everyone is getting around by boat", resident Serge Matikhine said.

In the city centre, the Seine flows through a deep channel, limiting the potential flooding damage.

However, authorities said Saturday that the flooding won't be as bad as forecast earlier this week.

However fears of flooding like that of 1910, which saw the Seine rise to 8.62 metres, shutting down much of Paris's basic infrastructure, looks unlikely.