Where to find the markers from The Great Paris Flood of 1910

Did you know there was a massive flood in Paris in 1910?

That’s the topic of this week’s podcast episode, featuring the voice of Jeffrey Jackson, Professor of History at Rhodes College, and the author of “Paris Under Water:  How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910”. You can find more about Jeffrey on his website here.

Listen to the episode below, where F is for Floods in the ABC-season, and where the music is from Pres Maxson.

Meanwhile, you might be wondering more about these flood markers, so here’s a collection of my pictures and how to find them. But first, some context. The floods happened at a time that postcards were extremely common, so there are lots of souvenirs of the flood you can quite easily find at flea markets around France. I found one at a bouquiniste within 2 minutes of looking this week.

What happened in the flood?

There hasn’t been a worse flood in living memory. The Seine overflowed and water went through the sewers and the Metro tunnels, then up onto the streets. In other words, it wasn’t just the area near the river that flooded, it was quite a way into the streets too.

What do the flood markers look like?

There are several types of flood markers – and I’m sure I’ve not even found them all. The three most common are: The (often green) rectangle that says “Crue Janvier 1910” [Flood January 1910].

Then there’s the small, circular disk that says “1910 plus hautes eaux connues Seine” [The highest known level of the Seine].

And lastly, it’s quite common to see large numbers 1910 engraved in the stone of the walls by bridges across the Seine, sometimes accompanied by a long vertical measure (as seen below).

Where to find the best markers

First things first, you can watch this live walk where I showed them all.

Buy a ticket for this one

The most unique I’ve seen is in the Conciergerie (the former prison where Marie Antoinette was held). There are at least three markers showing the flood inside the main hall, and the stone pillars are discoloured from the flood. The text still says “flood” but with another word for it, inondation.

“Inondation, 28 Janvier, 1910” [Flood, 28 January, 1910]. You’ll need to buy a ticket to get into the Conciergerie, making it the hardest to find of all!

On the doorway

At 18 rue de Bellechasse (near the museé d’Orsay) there are inscriptions on both sides of the doorway of the Académie d’Agriculture saying “Crue de la Seine, 28 Janvier, 1910”. Here are pictures from both sides of the door.

The green rectangles

Four good places to find the rectangle markers are (in order they appear in the pictures below):

  • On the Fontaine de Mars fountain, 75007
  • Opposite 7 Quai d’Anjou, 75004
  • 57 Rue Traversière, 75012
  • 1 Rue des Ursins, 75004 Paris
  • Not pictured: There’s also one on rue Mazarine (75006) and rue de Charenton (75102)

The small circle markers

These are especially on the banks of the Seine near the Bassin de l’Arsenal. I’ve also seen one at the entry steps to the Coulée Verte on avenue Ledru Rollin, 75012 (pictured below on the steps with the pigeon), but they’re small, high up, and mostly hard to find. Can you see the two below?

By the bridges

There are many instances of a 1910 engraved by a bridge in Paris. I’ve seen them by Pont de Sully, Pont de l’Archeveque, and Pont au Double (all pictured below – you might need to zoom in). There’s a good one for photos by Pont Alexandre III, scroll down for a special photo of that one.

Pont Alexandre III

Below is a picture from the steps of the iconic Pont Alexandre III. I took it on June 2nd, 2016, during the last big flood of Paris. You can see the 1910 to the right on the wall. At the bottom of the steps (and the bottom of the photo), there is a black plastic bag. That’s the inside of a Paris trash can that was totally submerged. And remember, the Seine drops quite steeply off the banks, so the water was very high that year… but still nothing compared to 1910!

Well, that’s it! Happy flood hunting. If you enjoy these blog posts, become a Patreon member of The Earful Tower here to support this channel and get extras.

If you’ve not listened to the podcast, please do! This Flood topic was the F part of a full alphabet season. Last week was E for Eiffel Tower.

Lastly, book a walking tour of Paris, or indeed the Louvre, via our official tour page on The Earful Tower here.

4 thoughts on “Where to find the markers from The Great Paris Flood of 1910

  1. Another reason to revisit Paris? For now, I’ll revisit my photos to see if I by chance captured any of these historic markers.

  2. How about a podcast on places that might be cooler in Paris during heat wave. Like the Petite Palace is air conditioned . Visit the Louvre in the evening. Night boat ride on the Seine. Etc.

  3. Inondation is the word I learned for flood when the Conciergerie was young. Your guest has some great photos and comments on his website!

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