Louvre reopens after historic flooding in Paris

The Louvre and the Orsay, the premier museums of Paris, have reopened after an emergency closure last week to move masterpieces to higher ground during the city's worst flooding in decades.

35,000 pieces of art had been moved to upper floors by staff as Seine River rose

The Louvre museum has reopened after historic flooding in Paris. Last week, 35,000 pieces of art were moved from the basement levels to upper floors following days of heavy rains which led the River Seine to reach its highest level in three decades. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty)

The Louvre and the Orsay, the premier museums of Paris, have reopened after an emergency closure last week to move masterpieces to higher ground during the city's worst flooding in decades.

Visitors lined up to see the Mona Lisa and other famed works in the Louvre after Wednesday's reopening.

Louvre officials had moved 35,000 artworks from storage areas and low-lying exhibition areas of the riverside museum as the Seine River rose last week.

About 150,000 works in storage and 7,000 gallery pieces were at risk.The institution's department of Islamic art, which is situated in the flood zone, "will remain closed a little longer," the museum said Tuesday on Twitter.

Also Wednesday, France's Cabinet formally declared a "natural disaster" in 782 towns and villages considered as the most affected by the flooding that has hit Paris and France's central regions.

Crates containing pieces of artworks from the collections of the Louvre Museum were stacked in rows after the museum was closed to the public. (John Schults/Reuters)

The procedure aims at helping residents and businesses to get financial help more quickly.

In total, 20,000 people have been temporarily evacuated from their homes, French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said.

Crates were stacked and crowded into upper level galleries, including the Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities room. (John Schults/Reuters)

Flooding around Europe has killed at least 19 people, including a 77-year-old man who drowned in his car Tuesday in northern France.

The Seine's levels peaked Saturday in Paris but remain more than 3 metres above normal, and several French regions are facing thunderstorm warnings Wednesday.

Water rushes past Alma bridge by the Zouave statue during floods in Paris, on Saturday, June 4. The Seine reached its highest level in nearly 35 years. (Francois Mori/The Associated Press)
A photo taken Friday shows the Statue of Liberty in Paris after the banks of the River Seine became flooded following heavy rainfalls. The rain-swollen river spilled its banks and Parisians were urged to avoid the area. Meanwhile, deadly floods continued to wreak havoc elsewhere in France and Germany. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty)