Iconic Paris landmarks shuttered as Seine river waters rise

By Friday afternoon, the river waters were nearly up to the waist of Zouave, a soldier statue at an abutment of the Alma bridge stretching across the Seine river in Paris.

The statue usually stands on a dry plinth, but has served as unofficial measurement for the river during floods for much of the century. On Friday he was soaked.

Paris is dealing with one of the worst floods it has seen in more than 30 years, with the central river rising more than 6 metres higher than its normal level on Friday afternoon, according to a regional government website.

The world-famous Louvre Museum, shuttered so that artworks could be removed from lower levels, posted photographs on its Twitter account showing the process of packing up masterpieces to transport them. "No dangers for the works in the Louvre," the museum assured.

Along the river's edges, many of the city's iconic cultural sites also announced closures, including the Musee d'Orsay, which hosts one of the most extensive collections of Impressionist art in its lofty halls that were once a train station.

Near the Champs-Elysee, the expansive Grand Palais museum and exhibition with a domed glass roof shuttered in the afternoon. Two sites of the National Library also closed, including the Francois Mitterand library - a modern complex with a forest garden between its stacks.

The Seine crested its banks earlier this week, forcing the promenades along its sides to close down. As the water reached was what expected to be its highest point on Friday, no trace of the lower promenades could be seen under the swirling waters.

Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay met with representatives of museums and cultural institutions affected by flooding at the Louvre, and Prime Minister Manuel Valls earlier promised emergency funding to support people who have been hit by the floods.

Heavy rains earlier this week caused the Seine to swell, and even though the rains had largely tapered off by the end of the week, the Energy, Ocean and Environment Ministry classified river levels around Paris at level orange, the second-highest risk level.

A commuter line announced that it would suspend service along the section that runs near the river, while the national operator SNCF closed one of its stations. Metro operator RATP also closed some stops. Traffic around central Paris was being re-routed due to flooded streets.

According to a count by newspaper Le Monde, approximately 20,000 people were evacuated during the floods that hit the region around Paris this week. Two death, including that of a three-year-old child, have been recorded by the authorities, the newspaper reported.

Last update: Fri, 03/06/2016 - 20:08
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