The heavy rain that has doused parts of France for most of a week finally stopped Friday, stopping short of the record deluge that many feared would drown parts of Paris.
The swollen River Seine, which flows through Paris, is expected to continue rising until early Monday, reaching 5.95 meters (nearly 20 feet), according to police. That's a few raindrops short of the serious flooding in June 2016, when water levels reached 6.1 meters (about 20 feet).
Those centimeters are significant for art lovers, as they're the difference between museums nervously watching river gauges and madly scrambling to save 35,000 pieces of threatened art.
Officials at the Louvre, on the banks of the Seine, had already moved paintings on the vulnerable lower level of the Islamic wing and had been on standby for a larger transfer if water begins dripping into the museum, according to CNN.
In the city, streets next to the river and buildings in low-lying areas were vulnerable, but most Parisians appeared unfazed by their newfound waterworld.
Police drone footage showed traffic flowing on city streets and traffic circles, even as boats — including popular tours — were unable to travel beneath Paris' bridges because of low or nonexistent clearance.
The biggest inconvenience, according to France 24 news agency, were “rats being flushed out of the sewers, making the city’s rodent problem much more visible.”
— Préfecture de police (@prefpolice) January 26, 2018
By Saturday morning, 1,000 people had been removed from vulnerable areas and 1,200 households were without power in parts of southeastern France, the police said. And more than 170 patients from two hospitals were transferred to less vulnerable facilities.
A France flood catastrophe has been a concern since January 1910, when — after a similar season of heavy rain — the Seine's water level suddenly reached about 8.62 meters (about 28 feet) above its normal mark.
Almost overnight, the city became a French Venice, its stately avenues and boulevards transformed into makeshift canals while basic infrastructure was destroyed.
At the time, the capital was entirely unprepared, and the crisis lasted two months. With the metro shut down, Parisians went about their business in boats and makeshift wooden walkways. Thousands of others were relocated.
Later in the 20th century, there were some close calls, but never anything quite as severe as in 1910.
In 1955, for instance, the river reached 7.1 meters (about 23 feet), and 6.18 meters (about 20 feet) in 1982.
Most recently, the Seine flooded in 2016 to a level of about 6.10 meters, which caused enough anxiety for the Louvre to remove some of its artworks in basement storage for out-of-town safekeeping.
In general, Parisians measure how bad things are based on how much of the “Zouave” is in the water.
On the side of the Pont de l’Alma, a bridge near the Eiffel Tower, the Zouave is a statue of the type of infantry soldier — usually a colonial subject from North Africa — once deployed in French military operations. This one, completed by the sculptor Georges Diebolt in 1856, refers to the Crimean War.
In the police drone footage released Saturday, the water had crept to Zouave's waist.