There’s been plenty of talk lately about the forthcoming Paris Olympics next year, and in particular, what it means for one very famous piece of Paris: the Seine River. It has about the same reputation as the Hudson or the East River in New York, in that you want to be on the riverbanks, but don’t want to risk the possible third arm you could grow if you were to dive in.
But somewhere along the way, it was decided that a portion of the swimming competition in the Olympics would take place in the Seine. Those poor athletes. Who knows what their bodies will be exposed to in those murky waters.
The idea is that by 2025, there will be three public bathing areas in the Seine, open to all. But the disinfectation process has been a struggle, and there is plenty more work to be done.
Currently, Paris opens fake sandy “beaches” along the Seine every summer, called the Paris Plages, but these new proposed bathing areas would be the first swimmable bodies of water along the riverbanks. Up til now, Parisians have had to make do with public pools (which we have a guide to here), or travel to a lake or ocean elsewhere in France.
Personally, I’m convinced that this plan to clean up the Seine is a somewhat subtle response to climate change. Paris in the summer can be beautiful or brutal, which is why the practice of running away to the South of France for a month is so integral to French culture. (Do you know what the French call these summer travelers? Find out here.) Historically, France never got on board with air conditioning, with many French people convinced to this day that it’s harmful to your health. The result is that those beautiful old buildings turn into ovens in the summer.
In 2019, Paris experienced a heat wave so bad that the city opened up fire hydrants all over town, effectively turning the Place du Trocadéro into a giant swimming pool. And this wasn’t just for fun—it’s part of maintaining public health and safety. That same year, an estimated 1,500 people were killed in heat waves in France. Giving people places (like public swimming areas) to cool down could save them, so making the Seine swimmable feels like the next natural step in Paris’s fight against unlivable temperatures.
Things I found on the Internet…
Managing Editor, frenchly.us
Stay in touch! I’d love to hear from you: [email protected]
Appear in our next newsletter: publish directory page.
Food & Beverages
Are you interested in promoting your business to Francophiles in the U.S.? Please contact us.
Did someone forward you this? Click here to subscribe.