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Floodwaters nearing their peak in Paris

PARIS -- Floodwaters were nearing their peak in Paris on Saturday, with the rain-swollen Seine River engulfing scenic quays and threatening wine cellars and museum basements. Unusually heavy rains have engorged the Seine and other rivers in the region, forcing a halt to all boat traffic in Paris, including tourist cruises.

Some quay-side restaurants were submerged, and some roads and parks were closed as a precautionary measure -- along with the bottom floor of the Louvre Museum. Groundwater was also seeping into some Paris cellars, and authorities warned residents of some neighborhoods to remove any valuables. 

France has only seen rain similar to this three times over the New Year period in the last century, according to the BBC.

However, authorities said Saturday that the flooding won't be as bad as forecast earlier this week. The river is expected to peak in Paris on Sunday at 6 meters or less (19 feet, 8 inches) on the Austerlitz scale -- below the 6.1 meters reached in exceptional floods in 2016, and well below the 8.6 meters hit in record floods in 1910.

In normal times, the river measures about 1.5 meters (4 feet, 11 inches) on the Austerlitz scale.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated along the Seine as floods caused significant damage in Paris suburbs in recent days, but no deaths or injuries have been reported. 

A street lamp and a tree are seen on the flooded banks of the River Seine in Paris

A street lamp and a tree are seen on the flooded banks of the River Seine in Paris, France, after days of almost non-stop rain caused flooding in the country, January 27, 2018.

PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS

Parisians seemed to be taking the high water and closures in stride, while tourists took photos of water-covered embankments Saturday, as workers inspected water infiltrations on a road.

Meanwhile, fishermen -- and a visiting flock of cormorants -- took advantage of the rushing, boat-free river to look for lunch.

"The flood of the Seine river can be interesting from a fishing perspective, because many fish approach more easily the river banks and the surface," said amateur fisherman Maxime Potier, an amateur fisherman casting his line from the Arsenal Port in eastern Paris. "I understand that people might fear the floods because of the strength of the current but here we are in a port, no current, so there is no fear." 

The Seine runs in a deep channel that limits the impact of swelling waters. In towns that are smaller, however, people have been punting boats along streets that are flooded. 

The rising waters are also reportedly flushing rats out from below ground, the BBC reports. 

A man fishes on the flooded banks of the River Seine in Paris

A man fishes on the flooded banks of the River Seine in Paris, France, after days of almost non-stop rain caused flooding in the country, January 27, 2018.

PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS