Paris may not have earthquakes, but we also have our “big one” to worry about — the Seine overflowing its banks. The 1910 flood created enormous damage and left a legacy of picturesque postcards of people taking boats through the streets, and plaques scattered through the city indicating what the water level was. But it also remained at the back of our minds. Scientists believe that the same kind of flood will happen again, any day now.
Many things have changed since 1910, but not the fact that there’s a lot going on underground here, from the Metro, to residents’, businesses’, and museums’ basements. The famous quais (banks) of the Seine are barely above water level. So a flood would still be a big problem.
Over the past few days, it rained hard and constantly. Suddenly, it seemed we were headed towards “the big one”. Luckily, the rain stopped today, but the Seine is still much higher than usual. Metro and suburban train stations near the river are closed — not to mention entire lines or portions of train lines in the suburbs. The cruises along the Seine are currently not operating, the boats unable to fit underneath the bridges. The Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre are also closed, so that collections in their basements can be safely removed. Displaced tourists and curious pedestrians clutter the bridges and snap pictures and selfies of the Flood of June 2016.
Today, my son, my mother (who’s visiting from the US for a few weeks) and I joined them, on our way to stroll around the Latin Quarter.
We’d already seen photos and video on the news, but being there in person was so impressive. You’d look out over the Seine and feel as if you were almost in the water. The familiar banks were covered in water so high you could only see the tops of street signs. Here are some of the pictures I took from the Pont Notre-Dame and the Pont au Double this afternoon.