Thousands of homes evacuated and Louvre placed on alert as riverbanks burst
The swollen Seine peaked Monday at more than four metres above its normal level, leaving a lengthy mop-up job for Parisians after days of rising waters that have put the soggy city on alert. The river rose to 5.84 metres early Monday, causing continued headaches for commuters as well as people living near its overflowing banks. The Vigi-crues flooding watchdog said the river would stay at its current level throughout the day before beginning to recede Tuesday. Around 1,500 people have been evacuated from their homes in the greater Paris region, according to police, while a similar number of homes remain without electricity. Tourists also suffered with the capital’s famous Bateaux Mouches rivercraft out of service, and only emergency services were authorised to navigate the waterway. The Seine did not quite reach the 2016 high of 6.1 metres, when priceless artworks had to be evacuated from the Louvre. But the world’s most visited museum was still on alert Sunday, along with the Musee d’Orsay and Orangerie galleries, with the lower level of the Louvre’s Islamic arts wing closed to visitors at least until Monday. A statue of an Algerian French army soldier from the Crimean War named Zouave that has guarded the river at the Pont d’Alma bridge in central Paris since 1910 was drenched up to the thighs in the muddy waters. “Fluctuat nec mergitur (tossed but not sunk) but it’s cooold,” the Zouave statue tweeted from an account set up in its name by an anonymous admirer, using the Latin motto of the City of Paris. Police again warned flooding aficionados against bathing or canoeing in the river, saying it was “forbidden and extremely dangerous”.