11 French departments still on flood alert

Worst of rain has passed, forecasters say

The worst of the recent rain, which has led to flooding in parts of northwest and southwest France, has passed, forecasters have said - but 11 departments remained on orange alert for floods on Thursday.

Météo France has maintained its second-highest level of alert for rivers and waterways in Eure, Eure-et-Loir, Sarthe, Orne, Calvados, Ille-et-Vilaine, Tarn-et-Garonne, Gers, Landes, Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées following several days of heavy and persistant rain.

The Normandy town of Alençon was hit by more than two months worth of normal rainfall levels in three days, while one-and-a-half months' worth of rain fell in Paris - levels not recorded in the capital in June since 1960.

Meanwhile, it is feared that Tour de France organisers might be forced into a few late route deviations after flash floods in the western Pyrénées destroyed roads in the areas that the race is due to visit at the end of July.

The Pyrénées-Atlantiques has seen the equivalent five weeks of rain since Tuesday. The village of Salies-de-Béarn, which sits on tributaries of the river Oloron, was flooded as waters rose 1.6m in a matter of hours, officials said.

Similar rainfall levels were recorded in Dax, where five weeks' worth of rain fell in 24 hours, according to Météo-France, while

In Dax, it fell the equivalent of five weeks of precipitation in 24 hours, according to Météo-France.

Meanwhile, La Grotte des apparitions in Lourdes, which is visited by millions of Catholic pilgrims every year has been closed because the Gave de Pau, which flows through the town has flooded. The international Mass at Saint Pius X Basilica has also been cancelled, even if the Basilica is not threatened at the moment.

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