A Rising River Seine

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Climate change: A rising river Seine causes a few inconveniences for tourists in Paris. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini.

A rising river Seine causes a few inconveniences for tourists in Paris. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini.

Navigating Paris when the Water Is High

 

In Paris with the youthful adventurers for a quick tour of its mainstream attractions, the first hint we receive that there is a little problem with rising water in the Seine river is while we are standing in a Metro stop waiting for our train. Announcements in French, beyond our limited understanding of the language, trigger a result—the immediate exit of hundreds of people in our train station. I take a look at Google Maps, which I am using on my phone to navigate everywhere, and, sure enough, there is a notice that high water has yielded a number of closed stations. Joy. We are on deadline for an 8 p.m. appointment to rise high on the Eiffel Tower. We exit the station, see crazily crowded buses and essentially no taxis, and opt to walk. It is our first evening in the city.

A Rising River Seine, Again

Is climate change impacting your trip to Paris? Be prepared: bring maps and download apps to navigate public transportation systems more easily should some train stations close. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini.

Is climate change impacting your trip to Paris? Be prepared: bring maps and download apps to navigate public transportation systems more easily should some train stations close. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini.

I’d checked the temperature of the city before we embarked on our trip but, silly me, neglected to take a look more specifically at the precipitation levels. I should have inquired with even more detail on what exactly the Seine was up to. I’d mostly just been relieved that the temperatures were warmer than those in New York. A friend had happened to be in Paris a couple of years ago when the Seine was unusually high; if I had even given that rising Seine a thought, it would have been to express relief that we are far past that.

Climate Change’s Challenges for Tourists

Except that we are not. Climate change has not gone away simply because we want it to. In the time that we are in Paris, the Seine, some 19 feet above its regular level, reaches—almost—that 20-foot peak of 2016. The Islamic arts level of the Louvre closes. The water covers the thigh of the statue of the Zouave at the Ponte Alma. The Seine flows so high that boats cannot escape beneath its bridges.

Paris and Climate Change: A lower level of the Louvre closed when the Seine river was rising in January 2018. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini.

Paris and Climate Change: A lower level of the Louvre closed when the Seine river was rising in January 2018. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini.

The lesson learned? Check the weather thoroughly before visiting a place, and make sure to have backup plans available. For us, this means rerouting a bit as we avoid stations that are closed. I wish I had brought a map of the bus system with me and downloaded apps of the train system on my phone. It is still possible to navigate the city using public transportation by following slightly alternate routes. It is while I am reading my various maps that I realize how many stations, indeed, are located so close to the river.

Even with a little bit of inconvenience, though, Paris does not let us down.

—Lori Tripoli

The Seine river rises 19 feet above its usual level in January 2018. In 2016, the river rose 20 feet. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini.

The Seine river rises 19 feet above its usual level in January 2018. In 2016, the river rose 20 feet. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini.

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