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Seine levels peak but Paris to remain waterlogged for at least a week

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The Seine in Paris on Sunday REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The River Seine's levels have peaked, France's metereological office said on Monday, as parts of Paris and the surrounding area were under floodwater and some 1,500 people were evacuated from their homes.


The Seine peaked at 5.85 metres on Sunday evening and stayed that way, making it unlikely that it will reach June 2016's 6.10 metres, let alone 1910's record of 8.62 metres.

But the flood waters will not begin to recede until Tuesday and will not reach its normal level for more than a week, experts warned, with soil waterlogged and water flowing in from the Seine's tributaries, some of which are now higher than they were two years ago.

The lower level of the Louvre's Islamic arts wing was closed on Monday and the museum remained on alert, as did the riverside Musée d'Orsay and the Orangerie in the Tuileries gardens.

River traffic, except for the emergency services, was banned, depriving tourists of rides on the Bâteaux Mouches pleasure boats and the Paris city council sent out a reminder that canoeing and swimming in the Seine was not only banned but also "extremely dangerous".

City of Paris advises caution, despite water levels peaking

Seven central Paris stations on the RER C commuter line have been closed for over a week and will stay closed until 5 February, while traffic was also banned from several riverside roads.

Paris's moving statue

While flood-warning experts measure the Seine's waters at the Austerlitz bridge, Parisians' traditionally judge the danger of flooding by how much the waters conceal of a statue of a Zouave - a member of a north African corps of the French army that fought in the Crimean war - on the Alma bridge on the other side of the city.

The statue is so emblematic that a Twitter account, @zouavealma, has been opened in the Zouave's name.

But the bridge was rebuilt in the 1970s and an indepth report by Le Monde newspaper has found that the Zouave is now lower than he was in 1910, when record-high waters flooded much of central Paris and reached the soldier's chin.

Photos posted on Twitter on Saturday showed the river reaching the combatant's crutch.

Two sodden months

The December-January period has been among the three wettest since records began in 1900 and the wettest since 1959.

Residents of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges row around town last week RFI/Stéphane Lagarde

Several areas in the Paris outskirts were seriously fooded with 1,500 people moved out of their homes and a comparable number deprived of electricity.

Residents of the southern suburb of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and the island of Migneaux, in Poissy west of the captial, could only move around in boats.

Enviroment Minister Nicolas Hulot was to visit Daint-Mammès, near Fontainebleau, on Monday afternoon.

Eleven départements were still on flood warning on Monday, due to water levels in the Marne, Aube and Saône rivers, which in some cases were higher than in 2016.

Clouds covered the sky in Paris and most of France on Monday and there was rain on the Channel coast, with forecasts of showers in the capital later in the week.