FLOODWATERS have reached a peak in Paris and are now threatening towns downstream along the rain-engorged Seine River.

The national flood monitoring agency Vigicrues said the water levels hit a maximum height of 5.84 metres (19ft 2in) on the Austerlitz Scale early yesterday.

That is beneath the level feared by forecasters, and well below record levels of 8.62m (28ft 3in) in 1910.

Weeks of heavy rains have swollen the Seine and its tributaries, forcing road closures, engulfing scenic embankments and halting river boat cruises through the French capital. The waters are expected to stay unusually high for days or even weeks.

The floods have caused damage in 242 towns along the river, and are now threatening more towns as the Seine heads downstream west of Paris toward Normandy and the English Channel.

Videos and photographs posted on social media have captured rats darting around the city, including outside Notre Dame cathedral. Flooding has also caused the Louvre Museum, home to the Mona Lisa, to close.

Several Metro stations have been shut as a result of the flooding, while boat traffic has been suspended.

Paths running along the Seine have restricted access and tourists have been warned to check updates and remain vigilant when travelling around the city.