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On Friday morning we finally realized — too late — that the flooding we had noticed on Wednesday was the real thing. The Seine was already the highest it had been in more than 30 years, and was still rising! Both the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay were closed indefinitely, so staff could focus on moving precious artworks from endangered galleries to higher levels. So much for Sherard’s short list! I proposed a list of second-tier museums that were still open — still fabulous, but not quite in the same class. Sherard suggested that we choose the one most likely to close next so I ruefully proposed the Musée du Quai Branly (which I have previously dubbed “the primitive art museum that dare not speak its name”). We walked over along the banks of the Seine so we could take in the scene.

A few pics of the flood:

The Square du Vert-Galant at the point of the l'île de la Cité, during the Great Flood of 2016

The Square du Vert-Galant at the point of the l’île de la Cité, completely underwater during the Great Flood of 2016

Inundated restaurant on the bank of the Seine during the Great Flood of 2016

Inundated restaurant on the bank of the Seine during the Great Flood of 2016

Pont au Change during the Great Flood of 2016

Pont au Change during the Great Flood of 2016

Seine floods are customarily described by how high they rise on the statue of a Zoave on the Pont de l’Alma. Normally he is high and dry, but today he was wading in up to his thighs. For comparison, the 1910 flood came up to his shoulders!

Zouave du Pont de l'Alma

Zouave du Pont de l’Alma in the Great Flood of 2016

Tout Paris looking at the Great Flood of 2016 from the Pont de l'Alma

Tout Paris looking at the Great Flood of 2016 from the Pont de l’Alma

The flood peaked early Saturday morning at 6.1 meters, just shy of the 1982 flood level, and the second highest since the catastrophic flood of 1910 (though 2-1/2 meters lower) [link]. Paris is acutely aware of its exposure to flooding; shortly before starting the trip I had read an article about a massive flood response simulation that was conducted in March. Some mitigation measures are feasible but there is basically nothing Paris can do to prevent another flood comparable to 1910 if it rains enough.