The Seine will once again be a bathing spot for the residents of the French capital, Source: Ville de Paris/ Clement Dorval

From 2025, Paris will be a beach destination

From 2025, Paris will be a beach destination

In fact, the city’s Seine River will already welcome swimming athletes during the 2024 Olympic Games

Few of you might know this but during the Second Olympic Games, held in Paris in 1900, the swimming competitions took place not in specially designated pools but right in the local river – the Seine. 124 years later, this is set to be revived with the announcement that the authorities are taking the necessary steps to make the river swimmable once again. And not only for athletes, either.

The overall aim is to bring up the quality of the water to pristine standards so that the general public can also enjoy taking dips in the Seine, with the horizon of this becoming reality being set as 2025, one year after the Games.

Paris' bid for the 2024 Olympiad has accelerated the project to reclaim the river. The mega-event acted as a lever and a catalyst for investing in sustainable quality water, improving biodiversity and reducing pollution. And beyond the opening of the water body for swimming, it is the entire ecosystem of the river that will be improved.

How many bathing sites?

Indeed, swimming in the river was a common thing in Paris in the distant past, however, with the growth of the city and the increased boat traffic, it was eventually banned exactly one hundred years ago. It continued to be practised clandestinely because old habits die hard, but it eventually stopped being part of the recreational options for Parisians sometime in the 1960s.

Now, there is an enthusiasm for reviving the practice. In fact, five bathing sites are already being studied in the capital: two on the banks of the Parc Rives de Seine (Paris Centre), one on the Marie arm (Paris Centre), one at the port of Bercy (12th arrondissement), and one on the Allée du Bord-de-l'Eau in the Bois de Boulogne (16th). 

In total, about twenty potential sites spread over 16 municipalities of the Greater Paris Metropolis, bordered either by the Seine or by the Marne, have now been identified.

The necessary steps to be taken

At the beginning of June 2023, the analyses of the water carried out on the basis of the European regulations in force gave "excellent results". Already in the summer of 2022, at the site of the future Olympic swimming events in the Seine, 91% of the daily measurements were described as good.

Still, the authorities have some work to do, and they have identified the necessary measures to be implemented in order to achieve the desired vision.

For one, the discharge of wastewater from boats has been prohibited by law. What’s more, the ports must feature connection facilities for the discharge of said wastewater.

The wastewater plants at Valenton (Val-de-Marne) and Noisy-le-Grand (Seine-Saint-Denis) will be equipped with systems to clean up water discharged into the natural environment.

Greater vegetation density will be promoted along the river so that rainwater runoff will flow into the ground in a natural way.

And it’s not just a question of measurements. The fact is that some 40 years ago, the Seine was so polluted that only two species survived in it. Today, there are more than thirty types of fish that call the Parisian stretch of the river their habitat.



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