These postcard images are from one of the great natural catastrophes in French history: the Great Flood of January 1910, the likes of which Paris had not seen since 1658. Snow-covered umbrellas dominate the foreground in the above picture.
No single event triggered the flood. A series of unusual weather patterns accumulated and built on each other. The summer of 1909 had been cold and rainy. Sodden land held as much water as it could and the rest ran off. Fall and winter came with more rain and snow. As the new year approached, it rained even harder and temperatures rose. Under the double load of meltwater and heavy rain, the Seine began to rise, causing small floods here and there. That was serious, but not a crisis. Then, on January 9, the rains came down even harder and by the January 14, the river was in full flood.