Real Life: The Seine River Floods

Paris in June. *sigh* What a lovely vision. Eating outside at sun-soaked cafes, getting plump on wine and cheese, taking in the city’s history and culture, eating all the croissants and baguettes you can handle. But this year, June began with tourists and Parisians alike gazing at rising river water, canceling boat tours, avoiding closed museums, and navigating closed metro stations, all while hoping the river didn’t rise further and spill into the streets. This, my friends, is the great flood of 2016.

I am in Paris to take a French immersion course while working (a perk of being a freelance writer). I am located four blocks from the Louvre — which closed to move its art to a safer, drier location — and luckily my apartment was not affected by the Seine rising about 21 feet above normal. That, by the way, is just a hair below the level at which water starts flowing into neighborhood streets, according to authorities. Although the water has receded a few feet from its peak on Saturday morning, the Seine is still far over its banks and it has a loooooong way to go to get back to normal. We’re told it will take at least 10 days, but more likely weeks. Especially considering that more rain is in the forecast after a couple of (mercifully) dry days.

Here’s video I shot during the worst of it, and you can see why the train line abutting the river closed: Water is leaking right through the tunnel walls. You also see employees measuring the water level and inspecting the tunnel. Then, the swelled Seine shows its power as it pulls debris down its length.

I’m not going to edit the photos I took over a three-day period during the worst of the flooding so you can see just how gloomy Paris looked thanks to the fog and heavy rain for days on end. Keep in mind that the Seine usually is much narrower and slower moving and has walkways, roads, restaurants, parks, etc. that run alongside it. Those all are currently nonexistent.

Parks, gardens, and art displays attempt to peek out of the water…
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, park, garden
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, art
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, garden, park, art
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, art, park, garden
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, park, garden
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, park

…as do boat tour signs.
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, tourism

Police blocked off some areas for safety, particularly ramps and stairs leading down to the river banks.
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, police, barriers
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, police
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding

The river issues didn’t stop many of the bouquinistes from selling their old books in the famous green stalls along the Seine…
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, bouquinistes

…and Notre Dame ignored all the fuss occurring around it.
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, Notre Dame

The usually bustling Seine banks became largely devoid of life…
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, tree, boat
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, trees
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, boat
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, boat
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, tree
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, boat

…except for us damn fools who insisted on going out in the rain and cold to see the spectacle.
Seine River, Paris, flood, flooding, bridge
Paris, Seine River, flood, flooding

Again, even though the waters are in the process of pulling back, they’re still incredibly high, around 14 feet or so. At its fastest, the water recedes at a rate of 0.8 inches per hour. As it does, debris and dirt are left behind, trees collapse due to overly softened soil and roots, and concerns are arising about the integrity of structures where the water crept.

Despite the days of nervous excitement, Paris has pretty much gone back to normal thanks to a day and a half of beautiful sunshine wiping the rain and gloom from locals’ minds. Because as the French say, C’est la vie, or “that’s life.” And life goes on…

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One thought on “Real Life: The Seine River Floods

  1. Katie I am sure you wanted to be in Paris at an exciting time but this is too much!! I hope school goes well. Mil

    Like

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