French Friday – Floods

Louvre statue atrium

Louvre statue atrium

The rain pours down on Paris as the statue in the Sculpture atrium gazes pensively upwards. TJ Parish Photography©

Poor Paris! What has it done to anger the Gods recently?

First but dreadful attacks, then riots in the streets and now the Seine is in major flood with no signs of abating.

The basement storage rooms of the Louvre are being evacuated with the treasures being moved to higher ground, the Musee D’Orsay is closed and Zouave is up to his waist in water!

Zouave statue Paris
The Zouave is up to his waist in water in the worst floods in Paris for 30 years.

Photo: Ambernectar 13/Flickr and AFP

The Pont de L’Alma was constructed between 1854 and 1856 and named to commemorate the Franco-British victory over the Russian army in the Crimean war. Georges Diebolt and Auguste Arnaud received a commission to carve sculptures of the four types of military combatants to be placed on the bridge piers.  Diebolt carved a  Zouave and a grenadier and Arnaud created a infantryman and an artilleryman.

In one of the worst floods in recorded Parisian history, the Zouave became the unofficial measure for the height of the Seine. In 1910 the waters reached his shoulder (about 8 metres above normal levels. If it reaches his ankles then the walkways by the Seine are usually too dangerous to use so you get an idea of how bad 1910 was. The current height of the Seine is about to his waist which (at around 6 metres) is as bad as it has been since the 1950s. The Vert-Galant garden on the tip of the Isle de la Cite is underwater and the barges up and down the Seine are unreachable on foot. No water traffic is possible due to the impossibility of passing under the bridges which are now too low.

You might like to check out this link which shows some very interesting before and during shots of the flood.

And what became of the 3 other statues which have vanished from the Pont de L’Alma? Well the bridge was completely rebuilt in the 1970s to accommodate the new riverside expressway and only the Zouave was left due to popular demand that it stay as a gauge for the river levels. The Artilleryman can now be found in France’s finest artillery school in the city of La Fère, the Infantryman ended up in Vincennes overlooking the A4 motorway and the Grenadier was shipped off to Dijon.

Stay dry everyone!

Bon weekend!!!


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