What is a Zouave and what does that mean in Paris TODAY?
Paris is flooding again. The Seine is overdue from its 100-year flood. The last massive disaster was in 1910 and if you walk the streets of Paris within the first few streets and boulevards from The Seine, there will be lines on the wall that say “-crue 1910-” or “-inondation 1910-.” Some of these are at your waist. It stabs you through the heart when you realize that this is the up to first floor and basements of at least thirty major museums, national libraries and important archives. The basement you see as a tourist is just the beginning of the basements beneath your feet that hold the rest of the collection. Then you shudder when you see the thousands of art galleries, rare book stores, and antique stores. Well, we do… We also hope that there are thousands of trucks ready to be put to use and surely traffic is endless in Paris at the moment.
How can you watch from afar? There is a twitter account to watch, actually… Watch what the Parisians watch and keep your eye to the Zouave (Zoo-ah-vay) on the Pont d’Alma. This statue dedicated to the heroic Algerian soldiers for France. A Zouave, well, a French man dressed as a Zouave anyhow, from the Crimean War holds up part of the Pont d’Alma just as his real-life counterparts sacrificed a large share as light infantry during the crucial Battle of Alma in the Crimean War in 1855. Russia lost. The alliance between The Ottoman Empire, The French (Second) Empire, and The British Empire won.
Currently (January 24th 2018 at about midnight, EST) he is up to his knees. In 2016, his thighs were submerged. In 1910 The Seine wrapped around his neck like a frozen January scarf. He’s tall - he holds up a bridge after all. The difference between 2016 and 2018 is about two feet, and it is not showing any signs of stopping at his thighs quite yet. Paris will wait and hope that it will not rise ten more feet; like in 1910, a vast majority of the city center could be underwater.