PARIS — France kept treading water over the weekend as ongoing floods and transit strikes gripped various parts of the country, and retailers were in turn impacted.
Le Carrousel du Louvre shopping center in the Louvre museum’s basement with retailers including Printemps, Lacoste, Jo Malone, Caudalie, Lancel and Apple reopened Sunday after it had decided to close protectively on Saturday.
This came after the river Seine, which sweeps through the center of Paris, almost matched a 30-year record high, when at 2 a.m. CET on Saturday it reached a peak of 6.10 meters, or 20 feet (the river Seine had reached 6.18 meters, or 22.7 feet in 1982; below the levels of the 1910 great flood, at 8.62 meters, or 28.28 feet.)
“Flood levels are decreasing,” a spokeswoman for Paris City Hall confirmed, noting that the dropping of the water level — at a pace of 1 centimeter, or 0.4 inch, an hour — is to take several days, even one to two weeks. “We remain very cautious,” she said. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, the Seine level was down to 5.70 meters, or 18.7 feet, she said.
Despite the relative relief (and a ray of sun late afternoon Sunday), the floods, which led to the protective closure of some museums and stores over the weekend; the difficult social environment, and a recent travel warning on Europe issued by the U.S. State Department are the latest woes for the City of Light, which is already suffering from dwindling tourism.
“On Friday night, we made the decision to close the Carrousel du Louvre, as part of a protective action against flooding set by the Paris police prefecture and Paris Fire Brigade, as the Seine passed above the alert level,” a spokesman for Unibail-Rodamco, the French commercial real estate firm that owns the shopping mall, told WWD.
“The shopping center reopened Sunday, as water levels are decreasing,” he said, noting that eight stores in the mall stayed closed but the major retailers in the mall, including Printemps, reopened. He noted that they have doubled the firemen count in the shopping center. “No water infiltration has been assessed,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, on the Left Bank, the Dries Van Noten boutique, at 7 Quai Malaquais along the Seine, was open Saturday. It was closed on Sunday, its normal closing day.
The Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge which crosses the Seine, was closed over the weekend, as were 20 public gardens and parks. The 14 city of Paris museums, including Palais Galliera and the Petit Palais, were open. The Grand Palais, which currently has the “Monumenta” exhibition, reopened Sunday at 10 a.m. after it opted to close its doors at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
As reported, the Louvre said it would remain shuttered through the end of the day Tuesday, while Les Arts Décoratifs in another part of the Louvre building, did not close the doors of its exhibition “Fashion Forward, Three Centuries of Fashion,” and remained open over the weekend. Olivier Gabet, Les Arts Décoratifs director, said that the museum has moved part of its archives to a drier location outside of Paris. “For fashion and textiles — everything is in a safe place,” he said. In other museum news, the Musée d’Orsay said it will remain shut at least through Monday included.
Most restaurants kept serving in the City of Light over the weekend, including the new eatery Loulou in Les Arts Décoratifs and the Café Marly, a favorite haunt of the fashion set that’s under the arcades of the Louvre’s Richelieu wing.
The bad weather didn’t delay the women’s and men’s final at the French Open on Saturday and Sunday, nor did it prevent the popular music festival “We Love Green,” to go ahead as planned in the Bois de Vincennes on the eastern edge of Paris. Rubber rain boots were the dress code and #WeLoveMud was a prevalent hashtag used on social media.
But transport disruptions continued as a result of an ongoing transit strike — and the floods. On Sunday, the Paris transport authority, known as RATP, said on its website that the Saint Michel metro station, on the Left Bank, close to Notre Dame cathedral, was closed but the Cluny-La Sorbonne station as stone’s throw of Saint Michel reopened. This followed the closure of the express regional train RER C. Other trains were for their part affected by strikes.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the strikes at the SNCF, the train operator, were “completely incomprehensible” on Saturday during a visit to a flooded area outside Paris.
France’s President François Hollande called the flood “a real catastrophe.” As reported, he said on Thursday said he would declare on June 8 a state of natural disaster in the areas worst hit by flooding, which will free up emergency funds.
Transport strikes and demonstrations against the Socialist government’s proposed labor law are likely to continue. At Air France, pilot unions have given notice of a four-day strike from June 11 to 14, in protest at what they say are deteriorating working conditions. This makes the strike set to start on day two of UEFA Euro 2016. The soccer tournament, which is scheduled from June 10 to July 10 in Paris and other French cities, is seen by tourism experts as a boon.
Last Tuesday, the American travel warning was another blow to Paris. As reported, the U.S. State Department on Tuesday raised the threat level of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe this summer, with a warning set to expire at the end of August, well beyond the city’s men’s and couture weeks.