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Paris flooding: River Seine bursts its banks as France prepares to host Euro 2016

Published 01/06/2016

The flooded expressway by the river Seine is pictured near the Pont Neuf bridge (Rear) after its banks became flooded following heavy rainfalls on June 1, 2016 in Paris. AFP/Getty Images
The flooded expressway by the river Seine is pictured near the Pont Neuf bridge (Rear) after its banks became flooded following heavy rainfalls on June 1, 2016 in Paris. AFP/Getty Images

After terrorist attacks and widespread strikes, large parts of the country now face severe flooding nine days before the start of the Euro 2016 football championship.

Although the river Seine has reached the top of the arches of its bridges and some of the Paris quays have been closed, experts say there is no immediate threat to the French capital.

Large areas of north central France, within the catchment area of the river Seine, are already severely flooded after the wettest May since the 1880s.

The front page of newspaper Le Parisien carried the headline: “Il ne manquent plus que ça…” (That’s all we needed.)

A catastrophic Paris flood is is historically overdue.

The last happened in January 1910 and continued  for 45 days. In its long history, the city has been flooded by the Seine on average once a century.

The height of the flood in 1910 was measured as 8.62 metres at the Pont d’Austerlitz in eastern Paris. Its level at the same spot on Tuesday was 3.82 metres.

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Fears grow ahead of Euro 2016 with River Seine set to rise further  

A man stands in the flooded street in underwear as the city is flooded due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France, on June 01, 2016.AFP/Getty Images
A man stands in the flooded street in underwear as the city is flooded due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France, on June 01, 2016.AFP/Getty Images
People stand next to flooded railway tracks on June 1, 2016 in Souppes-sur-Loing, southeast of Paris. AFP/Getty Images
A fence bearing a sign reading ' closed street, flood' is pictured in a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages.KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
City employees walk in a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Nemours. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
People chat in a flooded street in Nemours on June 1, 2016. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
People walk next to a pneumatic in a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Nemours. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
People paddle in a boat in a flooded street in Nemours on June 1, 2016. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
Picture taken on June 1, 2016 in Saint-Denis-en-Val, central France, shows a flooded street after heavy rains. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANTGUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
The flooded Vert Galant park is pictured from the Pont Neuf bridge after the banks of the river Seine became flooded following heavy rainfalls on June 1, 2016 in Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOTFRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images
The flooded expressway by the river Seine is pictured near the Pont Neuf bridge (Rear) after its banks became flooded following heavy rainfalls on June 1, 2016 in Paris. AFP/Getty Images
A man walks in a flooded street on June 1, 2016, in Saint-Denis-en-Val, central France, after heavy rains. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANTGUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
Submerged cars are pictured in a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Nemours, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
People access a tourist crusing barge on Quai de Conti using a small boat, after the banks of the river Seine became flooded following heavy rainfalls on June 1, 2016 in Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOTFRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images
People paddle in a craft in a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Nemours. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages.KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
Women cross a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Nemours, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A man pulls a small boat transporting inhabitants in a flooded street of Nemours, on June 1, 2016. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
A rescuer is lifted down from a helicopter of the Securite Civile, France's civil defence agency, to reach stranded residents following floods on June 1, 2016 in Nemours, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP/Getty Images
A man pulls a dinghy as he evacuates residents accross a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Souppes-sur-Loing, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
Rescuers evacuate residents onto a dinghy accross a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Souppes-sur-Loing, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
A rescuer evacuates a boy accross a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Souppes-sur-Loing, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
Chickens wait to be evacuated onto a dinghy accross a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Souppes-sur-Loing, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
A rescuer is lifted back into a helicopter of the Securite Civile, France's civil defence agency, after assisting stranded residents following floods on June 1, 2016 in Nemours, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
Rescuers evacuate residents onto a dinghy through a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Souppes-sur-Loing, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARDKENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images
This handout picture released by the Domaine national de Chambord shows flooded gardens at the Chateau de Chambord (the Castle of Chambord) on June 1, 2016 in Chambord as torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany. In Paris, the river Seine burst over walkways, while in northern and central France, homes and cars were wrecked as flooding left several towns and villages under a metre or more of water. More than 80 roads across France had to be closed. / AFP PHOTO / Domaine national de Chambord / A. Leboutey / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / DOMAINE NATIONAL DE CHAMBORD / A. LEBOUTEY" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS A. LEBOUTEY/AFP/Getty Images
This handout picture released by the Domaine national de Chambord shows a flooded area in front of the Chateau de Chambord (the Castle of Chambord) on June 1, 2016 in Chambord as torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany. AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters help a woman to disembark a boat as the city is flooded due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France, on June 01, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters rescue inhabitants on their boat as they search for people as the city is flooded due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France, on June 01, 2016. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANTGUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters stand by their boat as the city is flooded due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France, on June 01, 2016. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANTGUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
Residents with the help of rescueworkers cross a flooded street in Nemours, southeast of Paris, on June 1, 2016. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
People stand next to flooded railway tracks on June 1, 2016 in Souppes-sur-Loing, southeast of Paris. Getty Images
This picture taken on June 1, 2016 shows a flooded street due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANTGUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
A man stands in the flooded street as the city is flooded due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France, on June 01, 2016. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANTGUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
This picture taken on June 1, 2016 shows a flooded street due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANTGUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters set up their vehicule as the city is flooded due to heavy rainfalls at Montargis, central France, on June 01, 2016. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANTGUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A resident walks accross a flooded street on June 1, 2016 in Nemours, southeast of Paris. Torrential downpours have lashed parts of northern Europe in recent days, leaving four dead in Germany, breaching the banks of the Seine in Paris and flooding rural roads and villages. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Experts predict that as the flood water arrives from the south, the Seine could reach 5.2 metres by Friday of this week.

“It would need a very rainy month of June before the situation became really worrying,” Vazken Andreassian, a hydrologist with France’s institute for environmental an agricultural research, said today.

The latest weather forecasts suggest that a spell of drier weather should begin this weekend.

All the same, the Paris town hall and police department have started a “flood crisis” centre to monitor the level of the river.

The lower quays of the river have been closed to pedestrians. Parts of the Voie Georges Pompidou, the fast riverside road on the right bank of the Seine, have been closed.

In the Loiret and Yonne departments south of Paris, dozens of towns have been flooded and roads, including a section of the main A10 motorway from Paris to the south west, have been closed.

Schools have been shut down. Four hundred prisoners had to be evacuated from a remand centre at Saran.

In a diagonal band of territory from the Bay of Biscay to the Belgian border, rainfall in the month of May was two and a a half times the normal level.

In the country as whole, May was the wettest recorded since 1882.

On the strikes front, the situation remains tense. An indefinite rail strike which began on Tuesday forced the cancellation of around half scheduled trains today: four in ten high speed trains, six in ten regional trains and up to nine in ten commuter trains in the Paris area. 

Eurostar services to London were not affected.

The state-owned rail company, the SNCF, hopes that fewer workers will join the strike on Thursday.

The widespread petrol and diesel shortages which afflicted France last week have eased.

Although strikes at refineries continue, most filling stations were reported to now have normal supplies.

The industrial action is part of a stand-off between the centre-left government and militant trades unions over plans to reform France’s employment laws.

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