Keeping your house above water

Years ago when we told our friends who live in the north of France that we were considering moving to the south of their beautiful country, the first thing they said was, “Watch out for the floods!” They were understandably concerned since there had been 14 major inondations involving overflowing rivers in the previous 15 years in this part of the country. We knew that Carcassonne itself had risks since we’d seen numerous high water marks beside the 14th century bridge that crosses the Aude river (featured photo above) that brings us drinking water daily and destruction occasionally. Luckily we’d also seen the flood zone map prepared by the local newspaper so that we knew in advance where to concentrate our house hunt, or more accurately where to avoid. But what if you’re looking elsewhere in France; is there a national database to access?

Mill stream in Carcassonne

The map that we had seen in the newspaper was created from data contained within a risk prevention plan known as a Plan de Prévention des Risques d’Inondation. Every community is supposed to have one of these but if you can’t find one for where you are thinking of moving, there is another option. Watch out, however, because the Georisques database (link below) will give you all kinds of other risk potential including earthquakes, mudslides, avalanches, radon, volcanoes, and anything else that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse might deliver. One blogger likened it to reading the side effects of a medication where you must decide if it’s worth it. 

There’s another flooding database to consult if you are looking to live directly on the coast of France whether it’s on the Atlantic, the English Channel, or the Mediterranean. A group of scientists and journalists created Climate Central (link below) where you can zoom down to a street level map to see what effect rising temperatures and/or sea levels are expected to have on a potential property purchase. 

Along our part of the Mediterranean coast the arrival of storms that can bring 1 or 2 month’s worth of rain in a single night are often called “Cévenol episodes” due to the influence of the Cévennes mountains. If you’ve ever been in upstate New York and experienced “lake effect snow” you’ll understand the impact a natural feature can have upon the weather. There are a few spots in France, however, where neither water nor hills have created any disasters in the last 40 years. While we’re very happy where we are, should we consider a move it might be to the seemingly safe havens of the Côte d’Or department in Burgundy or the Ain department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. I wonder what the side effects would be?


Climate Central:

6 thoughts on “Keeping your house above water

  1. Good sunday morning, to Bill and Bob!

    The coffee is good this morning.
    I think this is a valuable post today. Many Francophiles can not wait to “purchase property” or so it seems, hanging out on the Facebook group pages for Expats, and ones that are on their way.

    This is great, the website links. Something to consider, for sure.

    I always end up feeling lots of compassion for homeowners whos homes have flooded. That has got to be horrible and godawful. Or should it be called: devilawful?

    Anyways, have a good sunday. Your loyal reader in Bavaria.


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  2. In Ireland we used to wonder if a tsunami would be able to reach us up on our hill. Here we are completely away from La Charente (it’s a few miles down the road) and 90 minutes from the Atlantic but the one that always worries me is the threat of subsidence of clay/limestone soil when there’s been a drought. Quelle horreur! 😉

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  3. Thank you for this insight and these links. Flood maps were one of our early research tools when trying to figure out where we want to settle, and the climate central site will help us to be able to get even more specific with our search.
    Rob and Jill

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