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Paris on alert after river Seine flood nears record levels

AFP / ludovic MARIN
3 min

The relentless rain over Paris, which caused the river Seine to burst its banks, has turned transport into a nightmare for tourists and commuters alike, halting train and boat services. Furthermore, rats are wreaking havoc on the streets of Paris!


“Of course the floods [have] made us upset because we don’t have the Seine cruises,” a frustrated tourist told FRANCE 24 near the overflowing river, but insisted that did not change how he feels for the city. “I love Paris anyhow,” he said.

Australian tourist Debbie Komorowski, visiting the city for the fifth time, said, “Two years ago we had our wedding anniversary here, on the bench over there [on the Île de la Cité island in the heart of Paris]. And now it’s gone! We can’t believe it. It’s amazing and sad to see.”

Rats take to the streets

More alarming for Parisians are the rats being flushed out of the sewers, making the city’s rodent problem much more visible.

“That doesn’t mean there are more of them, only that we see them more often,” said Pierre Falgayrac, an expert in urban rodents, who says the capital is now home to 1.75 rats for every Parisian.

The flooding situation in the French capital remains, however, far less severe than during the benchmark 1910 Great Flood, when the Seine water level rose to 8.62m, forcing many Parisians to evacuate their homes.

While the Seine is set to reach levels last seen in 1982 on Saturday, it will likely only pose a danger to riverside buildings and infrastructure.

Areas in the capital's suburbs are also under water, including the southern suburb of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges where residents are using boats to get around.

Seine to peak Saturday

The Seine is expected to reach a peak of up to 6.2m in the capital this Saturday on a scale used to measure its levels, four to five metres above its normal height.

The December-January period is now the third-wettest on record since data started being collected in 1900, according to the national weather service, Météo-France.

Many regions have seen rainfall double, with rivers breaking their banks across 14 northern and eastern regions, which remain on alert.

Alain Krakovitch, a director of local train operator SNCF Transilien, said his company’s forced halt of parts of the RER C within Paris – a commuter train carrying around half a million passengers per day, passing by world-famous landmarks such as Notre Dame cathedral, the Musée d’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower – “has definitely had an impact on commuters, and tourists too”.

For the latest information on public transport, see

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