Qui l’eût cru – when Paris flooded in 1910

Sepia image showing the streets around the Rond Point de L'Alma flooded.

Crue de la Seine – Rond Point de L’Alma – Creative Commons License
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Seven years ago I was rummaging in the loft of my great grandfather’s old house in the south of France when I discovered a box of postcards, ninety of them in total, like the one above, all depicting images of the 1910 Great Flood of Paris.

While not in great condition, and certainly not unique, I thought I should do something with them. It’s taken seven years to act on that impulse, and here is the result. I’ve had the postcards scanned and then I’ve posted them to an online map of Paris. Click on any of the pins and you can see a photo of the flood from that location. Click on the URL below each picture and it will take you to the Flickr gallery I’ve created of these images.

Access the interactive version of this map

Note this is just a screenshot of the map. Click here to access the interactive version of this map

Origins

The reason, I think, that the postcards were in the house in the first place is that I think my great grandfather saw himself as a historian and a bit of an archivist. It is unlikely that he collected the postcards himself: he would have been seven at the time and it would be at least another five years until he left his farming community – although he did end up running a bookshop in one of the areas flooded. It is more likely that he picked up a job lot of them at a flea market and recognising the significance of the event, thought they were worth keeping. In these days of the internet I don’t have the feeling that people do that sort of thing so much. But I’m glad that he did, because today I am able to publish online a load of photos that I haven’t seen elsewhere on the web, and hopefully others will find them useful.

Below are a few of my favourites. Be sure not to miss the polar bears.

Sepia image showing the waters of the Seine at record height under the Pont Alexandre III in Paris.

La Grande Crue de la Seine – le pont Alexandre III – Creative Commons License
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Sepia image showing half a dozen men in long coats and top hats being punted along a street in Paris.

La Grande Crue de la Seine – Gare St Lazare – Creative Commons License
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Image showing the Avenue Montaigne in Paris flooded with some boats moored in the middle distance.

La Grande Crue de la Seine – Avenue Montaigne – Creative Commons License
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Image showing polar bears in a pit in a zoo with flood waters rising around them

La Grande Crue de la Seine – les Ours Blancs du Jardin des Plantes surpris dans leur fosse par l’inondation – Creative Commons License
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Image showing people being punted along flooded streets in Paris.

La Grande Crue de la Seine – Quai de la Tournelle – Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

La Grande Crue de la Seine - Innondation de l'Avenue Rapp This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

La Grande Crue de la Seine – Innondation de l’Avenue Rapp
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Image showing the flooded railway tracks of the Invalides train line in Paris during the 1910 Great Flood of Paris

Image showing the flooded railway tracks of the Invalides train line in Paris during the 1910 Great Flood of Paris