Riverside homes and businesses in Paris are on high alert as the swollen River Seine Threatens to overflow its banks.
Touring boats are tied up, riverside roads are sealed off and the Louvre museum has closed a lower gallery.
France has seen rain like this over the New Year period only three times in the last century.
The surging brown waters are also reportedly flushing rats out of their usual haunts below ground, the BBC's Kevin Connolly reports from the French capital.
Within Paris, the Seine runs in a deep channel which limits the effects of the rising waters. But in smaller towns along the river, our correspondent adds, shoppers and commuters have been punting boats along flooded streets. They are waiting for the waters to recede to allow the first estimates of the financial cost of the flooding to be made.
A statue of a French soldier from the Crimean War- known as The Zouave - on the Pont de l'Alma has long been used as a marker for water levels in the city.