Flooding of the Rhône river is a regular occurrence, with varying degrees of intensity depending on the amount of natural rainfall over the seasons.

Floods of the Rhône River and Vigicrues

Flooding on the Rhône

With a catchment area representing 17% of the surface area of mainland France and numerous tributaries stretching from Switzerland to the Mediterranean, water levels in the Rhône valley rise rapidly during bad weather or when the snow melts.

Added to this is the influence of the Rhône’s many tributaries, whose flows can multiply in the event of bad weather or Cevennes events.

In many towns and villages along the river, plaques bear witness to the intensity of past floods and the overflows of the Rhône that left their mark on local populations.

Floods of the Rhône River in Tain

Totally canalized since the last century, the Rhône river no longer represents a major danger for its residents. Even if some of its episodic overflows can cause significant damage, they are nonetheless kept under control by the accumulation of dams along its course.

Flood map with vigicrues

To assess the state of the river, Vigicrues, the information service on the risk of flooding of the main rivers in France, allows consultation by zone, particularly for the Rhône and its tributaries.

Monitor the floods of the Rhône River
Map of river conditions using Vigicrues (extract)

Divided into territories, the map shows water levels at various stations on the Rhône and its tributaries:

Direct access to river conditions by sector

  • The north of the Rhône and the Saône, the Rhône amont-Saône area (Lyon region )
  • The Rhône valley as far as the Mediterranean, Grand Delta area (from Valence to the Camargue )
  • The Alps with the Isère, Northern Alps region (East towards Italy )
Flood trail, Tain l’Hermitage

Stories of the Rhône floods

Are you interested in the history of the Rhône and its variations?

To find out more about the flooding of the Rhône and its history, we recommend you listen to the radio documentary, Le fleuve se fâche.

Presentation of the LSD programme and the documentary series on the use of the river by Perrine Kervran:

The Rhône is the most developed river in the world. This mythical, fiery river has been turned into a small, flat river to serve our economy.

From time immemorial, river dwellers have sought to protect themselves from the river’s wrath, through prayers and processions, and then by building dykes, levees and quays. The strategic importance of the Rhône corridor, linking Northern Europe to the Mediterranean, has made it a mythical river that has enabled them to travel and trade since before Antiquity.

But to make it more navigable in all seasons and in all circumstances, it has been increasingly developed. In the end, the power of this Alpine river was turned against it. Since the 19th century, and especially after the war and up until the 1980s, attempts have been made to control it, to enslave it, to divert its energy to our benefit.

Twice already, unable to breathe, it has given warning shots and shown its anger. Today, scientists are at its bedside trying to restore the Rhône.


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