As Paris is pounded by heavy rains, several towns to the east and south of Paris are experiencing the worst flooding for decades.
This part of Europe-wide freak weather where at least 11 people (one in France and 11 in Germany) have been killed.
The river Seine rose above acceptable alert levels (5 metres) on Thursday. The river’s quays were washed out and an island in front of the Eiffel Tower has been completely covered over.
Motorway slip roads have been closed and some railways services, RER C, had to be suspended.
Flood alert levels are at yellow, the third highest, but with more downpours forecast for the weekend, expectations are that this will be upgraded to orange. According to François Duquesne, head of Vigicrues, the agency which monitors water levels in France, said:
“The Seine is still rising but we are far from the 8.5 metres recorded in 1910 (when large areas of the capital were flooded for 45 days). We should see a rise to a peak of around 5.6 metres overnight.”
The timing could not be worse being just a week before UEFA Euro 2016 national football tournament due to start in Paris. The giant “fan zone” is built on the Champs de Mars close to the Eiffel Tower and can host up to 100,000 people. Continued flooding could see the zone submerged under water.
The city’s iconic Louvre Museum has been closed so its priceless artworks can be protected or moved. The museum has just 72 hours to move its work into its underground reserve, the first time since the Second World War.
The Musée d’Orsay, (which was once a train station) on the opposite bank of the river, also closed early on Thursday night as a precautionary measure.
The Eiffel tower and all other museums are currently open.
All pleasure boats and cruises have been cancelled, some promenades along the Seine are closed off and some of the city’s Metro stations have been shut.
However there is no disruption to Eurostar services or air travel. There is disruption to the country’s rail network but this is due to strike action and unrelated to the weather.