Walking along the Seine River might be a romantic activity to do during your Parisian holiday, but these days, it’s not even remotely possible. And forget about taking a cruise along this famous river. All maritime traffic is forbidden on this waterway under the flood subsides – and it looks like that will take a while. The Seine crested at 19 feet on January 30th and will recede slowly. It will take weeks before the riverbanks re-emerge. Here’s what tourists need to know.
First of all, the public transportation system is slightly disrupted but you can still get to where you want to go. The central part of the RER C is closed until February 10th (11 stations are currently under water) so it’s best to avoid that line altogether. The riverboats are all out of commission; as are the numerous floating boat-restaurants that line the banks of the Seine. Paradoxically, even though the riverbanks are invisible, hundreds of people line the Parisian bridges taking photos of the swollen Seine. If you do wander down to the river, please ensure you stay on the bridges. Do not venture to the water’s edge as the current is quite strong and might literally sweep you away.
Other than inundating the buildings that are directly located on the Seine, the flooding has not crippled Paris. The Louvre has closed its lower level (Islamic Art Section) and, along with the Musee d’Orsay and the Orangerie Galleries, is still on flood alert. The rain has almost stopped falling and dry, cold weather is moving in. Some towns outside of Paris, such as Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, had to be evacuated and have lost electricity. However, Paris itself is still functioning.
What can tourists do on the Seine? You could try fishing. According to seasoned Parisian fishermen, many more varieties of fish approach the surface of the water during flooding. Or you could watch the swans and ducks who adapt easily to rising tides and are enjoying having the Seine River to themselves. If you didn’t come to Paris to fish or duck-watch, rest assured there are still plenty of things to do here. Start at Montmartre which is at 130 meters (426 feet) of altitude and work your way down. Paris has a lot to offer.