In May rainfall levels in Paris were the highest since 1873. Torrential rain caused catastrophic flooding in the Paris region. Yesterday the levels of the River Seine in Paris reached a 34-year high at 6.18m (20ft) above its normal height. President François Hollande described this natural event as an ‘exceptional flooding’. Here are a few dramatic photos of the June 2016 Paris floods taken Saturday 4 June during a walk from the Île Saint-Louis to Pont Mirabeau.
The 1910 Great Flood of Paris
The reference point for floods in Paris is the 1910 Great Flood of Paris (Crue de la Seine de 1910). That year Paris was submerged for two months and the water levels peeked at 8.62m above the normal height. However the Seine did not rose high enough to escape its banks and took to the streets of Paris. Instead the water flooded the city through tunnels, sewers, and drains.
Another major floods took place in 1955 when the Seine reached 7.12m. The 1982 floods reached 6.18m.
Museums and métro stations closed
The worrying rise of the Seine led to the Louvre and Orsay museums to close for several days. Their staff were requisitioned to move art to safety. In the Louvre, more than 250,000 works of art and historic objects stored in the basement were moved to the upper floors.
The métro and RER network was not affected except for a few métro stations which were closed (including Saint-Michel and Cluny-La Sorbonne).
The peak of the floods took place very early on Saturday morning. The water level should remain stable over the weekend and it will take several days for the rain-swollen river to drop back to its normal level.
We started our 10 km walk along the banks of the River Seine at Place du Châtelet. Here is the Conciergerie and the Pont au Change:
The Pont-Neuf seen from the Pont au Change:
The Pont d’Arcole linking the Right Bank to the Île de la Cité:
The view from the Pont d’Arcole to the Tribunal de Commerce, the Pont au Change and the Conciergerie:
The Pont d’Arcole and the Île de la Cité:
The expressway Georges Pompidou entirely under water:
The Île de la Cité from Pont d’Arcole (Quai aux Fleurs) and the spire of Notre-Dame cathedral:
The water level of the Great Flood of 1910 compared to that of 2016:
Now on the Île Saint-Louis. The lower quays of Quai de Bourbon submerged… only a typical Parisian lamppost reveals the presence of a disappeared lane:
It seems so peaceful isn’t it? We continued our walk across the Île Saint-Louis. Here a happy fisherman spotted from the Quai d’Orléans:
Looking at the Pont de la Tournelle topped by a statue of St. Geneviève:
The view of the chevet of Notre-Dame from the Pont de la Tournelle:
The Port de la Tournelle flooded (Left Bank):
We often take photos of Notre-Dame from this spot (Pont de l’Archevêché) but never with the water so high:
A lovely view of Notre-Dame cathedral seen from the Petit-Pont. The water really does look muddy:
The Quai des Grands Augustins (Left Bank) on the right (!) and the Île de la Cité (on the left). Photo taken from the Pont-Neuf:
The western tip of the Île de la Cité is called the Square du Vert-Galant. It was also entirely under water:
From the Pont-Neuf: the square du Vert-Galant (which cannot be seen except for the weeping willow) and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
The Pont-Neuf from the Right Bank near La Samaritaine:
The Pont-Neuf and the Conciergerie on the Île de la Cité seen from the Quai de la Mégisserie (Right Bank) not far from the Pont des Arts:
The emergency boat of the Paris firemen navigating by the Square du Vert-Galant:
The Pont des Arts and the Institut de France. The footbridge that connects the Left Bank to the Louvre has been closed since the beginning of the flood:
The Pont du Carrousel:
One of our favourite views of the Banks of the River Seine. Taken from the Pont du Carrousel:
A similar view but taken from the Pont de la Concorde with the Passerelle Léopold Sédar-Senghor in the forefront. Can you see Notre-Dame, the spire of the Sainte-Chapelle and the Institut de France?
After we crossed the Pont de la Concorde, there was a nice view of the Palais Bourbon, the seat of the National Assembly:
The view from the Port de la Concorde (South-eastern tip of the Place de la Concorde):
A close-up of the Pont Alexandre III and the Eiffel Tower:
Ready for a boat trip? The Seine looks as wide as the River Thames in London!
The Ministry of International Affairs threatened by the rising water of the Seine:
Approaching the Pont Alexandre III:
The Pont des Invalides seen from the Pont Alexandre III:
It was already mid-morning when we arrived at the famous Pont d’Alma and its zouave:
The Zouave Statue of Pont d’Alma
Since the 1910 floods, the Zouave Statue flanking the Pont d’Alma has acted as a measuring gauge. For three days many Parisians have been checking the rise against the statue. At the peak of the 2016 flooding the statue was submerged up to the waist. In 1910 the water level reached his neck.
The Pont d’Iéna (forefront) and the double-decked Pont de Bir-Hakeim (background). The Eiffel Tower is not far…
A sign of a vanished carpark:
The expressway Georges Pompidou in the 16th arrondissement:
The green-tinted Pont de Mirabeau:
Our last stage: the Pont Mirabeau with the incredible view of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty:
It is estimated that the flooding could cost 600 million euros. Upstream of Paris many houses have been flooded and devastated. Some personal effects are visible from a bridge such as this ‘traveling sofa’… where does it come from? Where does it go? Well the first question is hard to tell. But we know that it is on its way to the English Channel via Rouen and the estuary of Le Havre:
Boat and cruise trafic were banned from the Seine and only emergency boats were allowed.
Check out BEFORE/AFTER photos of the 2016 Paris Floods.
These are wonderful photos. I’ve been there several times more most recently exactly a year ago. What a difference. I tried to explain to others how high the water is, but if you’ve never seen the height of the embankments normally, it doesn’t seem that terrible. If you go back when the water has receded and take these same shots for comparison I would like to be notified. Side by side comparisons would be eye-opening. I’ve been following the news several times a day; it seems the river is finally done rising.
Good luck to you all,
Bonjour Janis! Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, you’re right, it’s better to see the differences between the ‘normal’ and extreme levels of the River Seine. I have just published a new post with photos of the level comparison I hope you’ll enjoy: https://frenchmoments.eu/paris-before-and-after-the-2016-floods/ Have a lovely day and see you soon on our blog!
Just discovered your site and am really enjoying it. I was in Paris late October and fell in love with it which I was not expecting, it is truly magical. I missed the bombing by 12 days, not a close call but it was heart wrenching after my wonderful experiences there. Thanks for your posts I will be following.
Thank you so much for your feedback and for taking the time to write this kind comment. I am thrilled that you are enjoying discovering our website. We always hope our little discovery journey in Paris and France will bring something ‘magical’ to our readers. A très bientôt ! – Pierre