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Louvre | © David Bertho/Flickr
Louvre | © David Bertho/Flickr
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Louvre And Orsay To Evacuate Art As Paris Floods Peak

Picture of Anya Schukin
Updated: 19 December 2016
After several days of torrential rains, Paris’ river Seine has swollen over 6 meters above normal levels, bursting its banks in places and threatening widespread disruption across the city. Paris’ two largest museums are set to evacuate thousands of works of art and artifacts that have been threatened by the recent floods.

The Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay closed today to allow museum workers time to move vulnerable works to upper levels. The move has been described by authorities as a precautionary measure.

Both museums have well-organized emergency procedures in place. The Musée d’Orsay has 96 hours to relocate approximately 30,000 works from its basement and ground floors, while the Louvre has 72 hours to move 250,000 pieces to its first and second floors.

The floods are of particular concern to the Louvre, which squats at the edge of the bloated river and houses the majority of its vast collection of priceless art and artifacts in underground vaults.

The city’s famous museums are not the only ones affected by rising waters. Train lines and metro stations bordering the river have shuttered their doors, boats have been barred from navigating the turbulent waters, and the Vert Gallant park under Pont Neuf has been completely submerged.

High waters under Pont Alexandre III | © Lauren Johnston
High waters under Pont Alexandre III | © Lauren Johnston

Flooding is nothing new for Paris: built on marshland, the city has been subject to numerous floods throughout its 2000 year history. The most dramatic inundation occurred in 1910, when Seine waters surged to a record-breaking 8.6 meters above normal for six weeks, spilling into the city’s boulevards and forcing residents to commute by canoe.

Earlier this year, Paris city planners held extensive drills to prepare the city for a flood-of-the-century event. The exercises spanned two weeks and projected a deluge that would engulf several arrondissements and affect nearly 1 million residents.

The following video is a simulation of what that flood might look like.