Flooding in Paris sends rats scurrying through city’s streets

World Today

This year, Paris is seeing some of its worst flooding in a century. That’s sent some residents scurrying to higher ground.

Nighttime visitors outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris are not of the usual tourist sort.

Rats have become a frequent sight on the French capital’s streets as they evacuate their subterranean nests due to heavy flooding.

CGTN’s Paul Barber reports on the plague of rats in the city.

Follow Paul Barber on Twitter @paultcbarber

“Yeah we’ve seen lot of rats recently, I think it’s due to the rising water levels of the Seine,” said one tourist. “But I don’t know really, we live close to a big cemetery and there are a lot of rats there actually.”

One local resident said that, “Someone described to me seeing rats in the middle of the Place de la Concorde, crossing the street at one o’clock in the morning!”

Rats can carry dangerous viruses, and could dent the image of the world’s most visited city.

Paris recently launched an eradication program, laying more traps in public spaces – but with only moderate success.

And excess garbage outside the city’s restaurants is a persistent problem.

Paris has around 30,000 trash cans, and while the transparent plastic liners are great for averting terror attacks by making it harder to plant bombs, they’re also much easier for rats to get into. Part of a $1.6 million dollar campaign announced last year by city hall to rid Paris of its rodents includes a plan to cover those bins in plexiglass.

Stephane Bras, a spokesman for CS3D National Pest Control Association, welcomes the move. He said rats do need to be contained, but that they still play an important role in the ecosystem.

“Rats are very useful for sewage, underground,” Bras explained. “They are useful because they eat a lot of rubbish. And if they are not there, it could be another issue. So the national organization of professionals and experts I represent, we don’t wish eradication of rats, but control of the population.”

The mayor has announced further efforts to clean up the city’s streets. With river levels receding, the resident rodents could soon be back where they belong.

“Every city has its problems,” said another tourist, “and it doesn’t make Paris a less attractive city.”