A study of paleofloods in the Gardon River in southern France reveals the occurrence of past extreme floods that were larger than any observed historically. From 8 to 9 September 2002, during the course of the study by a complete coincidence, an extreme flood claimed the lives of 21 people and caused millions of dollars worth of damage to the towns and villages along the river. This flood was larger in magnitude than any flood on record, according to gaged data since 1890.

An autumn storm, which is typical of this region, struck with immense force. The rain cell migrated from the lower reaches of the basin on the evening of 8 September to the upper parts of the basin, producing 680 mm of rain in 20 hours.The flood's peak discharge is preliminary estimated at 6000 m3 s−1. This flood is now considered by the media and professionals to be “The largest flood on record.” However, our research proves otherwise.