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Paris in flood: transport chaos and museum closures cause pandemonium

Paris in flood: transport chaos and museum closures cause pandemonium
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By Luke Barber
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The French capital is in crisis after the river Seine broke its banks rising to its highest level in 35 years.

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The river Seine, which cuts through the heart of Paris, has risen to six meters above normal level, the highest swell in 35 years.

There was already transport mayhem in the French capital due to striking rail workers, but flooded metro stations and roads is a new threat to commuters and tourists.

Traffic chaos

One of the city’s high speed RER lines has closed due to water on the lines, the rest are severely affected by the transport strikes.

Metro stations near to the river have closed and the roads that follow its banks are underwater causing traffic gridlock.

One bus driver said that he was having to control traffic himself, “it’s incredibly stressful”, he said.

An Italian tourist said he and his wife would have to walk across the city as the closest station to his destination is closed.

⚠️ #Floods remain widespread, causing disruption to transport. Red alert for south of Paris. https://t.co/hHRXnkZ27cpic.twitter.com/seb0dcBfES

— British in France (@BritishinFrance) 2 June 2016

Disappointment for tourists

Paris’ landmark museums, the Louvre, the Orsay and the Grand Palais, have closed to protect their world famous works of art.

The Louvre – which is the most visited museum in the world, seeing 9.7 million tourists per year – closed its doors on Friday, citing the rising waters of the River Seine as a threat to its priceless collection. It will stay shut until Tuesday at the earliest.

It’s artworks have been boxed up in preparation for evacuation to safety in the museums basement where they will be kept dry.

Priceless art at risk as extreme flooding forces Louvre to shut > https://t.co/0f9WuCg6cu#Paris#Artpic.twitter.com/IGYlJcD74z

— Akimbo (@akimboart) 3 June 2016

Tourists who had planned to visit the attraction were left disappointed, with one man from Turkey saying: “Tomorrow we are going to leave so we cannot visit. We will save it for the next time, if we have the opportunity to come again.”

Another would-be visitor said that although it is a “shame” that the museum is closed, it is the “right” decision to move the art.

So, JenAshleyWright</a> and I planned The Louvre for today and it&#39;s closed due to flooding so … X-Men Apocalypse? Is that pretty similar?</p>&mdash; Daniel Kibblesmith (kibblesmith) June 3, 2016

The Orsay Museum – home to Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ – announced on Friday that it would remain closed until Tuesday, although there is uncertainty as to when floodwaters will recede.

Paris’ river boat service, another popular tourist attraction was also not operating, due to exceptionally high waters impeding passage beneath the Seine’s numerous bridges.

If you are waiting for your River #Seine pleasure cruise, don't hold your breath. Um, actually, you should. #floodspic.twitter.com/wNJWlqlolh

— Joseph Bamat (@josephbamat) June 3, 2016

The Zouave statue below the Pont de l’Alma is being used by Parisians to measure the rising of the river.

The Seine’s swollen waters are expected to peak on Friday evening following days of torrential rain that has so far claimed two lives in France and a further 13 across Europe.

The floods in Paris are approaching the 1910 level which got to the shoulder level of this statue. Currently at… https://t.co/9XAW4j3aTB

— Jim Ullery (@neonladder) 3 June 2016

In January 1910, the Seine rose by over 8.5 metres, and although there were no deaths, it lasted a week and caused an estimated 1.5 billion euros worth of damage.

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