STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Parts of Paris are under water. Flooding is submerging roads, closing parts of the subway and forcing museums to move artwork to higher floors. So what's it like by the riverside? Here's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: OK. I've come down to the Seine River. And here, where I often walk along the river, by the houseboats...
(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SLOSHING)
BEARDSLEY: ...Is completely submerged. And there is a swan swimming right in front of me.
The Seine has risen nearly 19 feet above its normal level, and the city is collectively holding its breath to see if the river will rise above the 2016 flood level of 6.1 meters, or 20 feet. After a solid month of rain, rivers across France are overflowing their banks. And nearly half the country is on flood alert.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (Speaking French).
BEARDSLEY: Television news is dominated by the flooding. In the Marne valley, people have been evacuated from villages. Tens of thousands are putting their furniture up on cinder blocks.
Boat traffic on the Seine in Paris and upstream has been stopped, but people stand on a bridge, watching the roiling waters below.
NATSARENO MONTIS: (Speaking French).
BEARDSLEY: Italian Natsareno Montis works in Paris. He says the climate is changing in Europe, and people have to wake up. Two major floods in two years is crazy, he says. Overconstruction and industrial farming have also made the soil less porous.
Parisian Pierre de Potestat has come out to watch the river. Despite the damage, he thinks there's something beautiful about the wildness of it all.
PIERRE DE POTESTAT: I like the seagulls, you know. When the river gets bigger, maybe more seagulls come from the sea.
BEARDSLEY: The Seine is expected to peak Friday night sometime after midnight.
Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.