Paris soaked by wettest spring in 150 years

A family visits the flooded banks of the River Seine near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (Jerome Delay, AP)
A family visits the flooded banks of the River Seine near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (Jerome Delay, AP)

Paris - Parisians, never ones to suffer in silence, have had good cause to grumble of late: meteorologists confirmed on Monday it has been the wettest spring in the French capital in nearly 150 years.

The news came on the final day of spring, which, after weeks and weeks of grey skies and pouring rain, fittingly ended with an hours-long downpour in Paris.

Usually, after a long winter, Parisians flood parks and the outdoors to soak up some much-needed spring sun, quaffing wine on the banks of the Seine or sipping cocktails on restaurant terraces.

But this year, with the summer solstice on Tuesday, it is still boots and coats for most Parisians, who have only seen the sun peek through the clouds a handful of times.

The French meteorological agency Meteo-France said the three months of rain (320mm) were double the normal amount, and the most since records began in 1873.

In early June, residents watched in awe as the Seine River rose to its highest level in three decades, prompting the closure of the riverside Louvre and Orsay museums while they evacuated priceless artworks.

The flooding which saw rescuers rowing canoes through towns around Paris, caused around €1bn in damage, the AFA insurance association said on Friday.

Several other French towns also saw record rainfall, which Meteo-France forecaster Etienne Kapikian attributed to more low atmospheric pressure systems than usual in central and western Europe.

While summer will arrive for a day or two this week, storms and lower temperatures will follow.

"There is no generalised, sunny weather expected for the moment," said Kapikian.

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