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Parisians to bathe in a clean Seine by 2024?

The Local · 10 Jul 2015, 09:43

Published: 10 Jul 2015 09:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Jul 2015 09:43 GMT+02:00

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Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is adamant that should Paris win the right to host the 2024 Olympics the swimming leg of the triathlon event will take place in the Seine river, that flows through the heart of the capital.

Hidalgo outlined her vision of the triathlon taking place in Paris's picturesque (but not terribly inviting) river yesterday, in the wake of the French capital announcing its bid  to host the 2024 Games last month.

She said the event would take place in the section of the river at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

She told BFMTV: "Yes, we propose that the triathlon will take place in the Seine. To make that happen we must, of course, continue to work on the quality of water in Paris. We don’t yet have the water quality needed to allow people to swim."

"Would I bathe in the Seine today? No. But in sporting events, the water quality requirement is not quite the same as that of daily swimming.

Hidalgo's wish echoes that of former Paris mayor and ex-French president Jacques Chirac, who famously said in 1988 he would take the plunge in the Seine once it was cleaned up.

But the river hasn't cleaned up its act much since then.

A swimming event in the Seine in 2012 for which 3,000 people had signed up was cancelled at the last minute when Paris police, on the advice of the Regional Health Agency, deemed the water too dirty and said it would endanger the health of participants.

However the Paris Triathlon in 2012 (see photo) did see competitors take to the Seine for the swimming leg. The participants swim a distance of 0.5 miles (750 m) from Pont de Iena to Pont Alexandre III.


Story continues below…

Hidalgo, however, is confident that by 2024 the water will be clean and safe enough for the athletes to swim in.

Hidalgo said she hoped the economic legacy of the Games would allow for water quality good enough for daily swimming, so the invitation could well be extended to the Parisian public.

Could Paris Plage become a real beach, one you can actually go swimming at, rather than a one long sand pit? And would you get in the Seine even if you could?

Some locals have shown that if the weather gets hot enough then the murky waters of the city's river ways hold no fear for them.

Some brave or foolhardy locals, depending on your point of view, found a more radical way to stave off the recent the heat - by jumping into the city's canals.
Their new spot for an outdoor swim appears to be, the Bassin De La Villette, which links the Canal St Martin and Canal de l'Ourcq.
The video below from Le Bonbon website shows bathers plunging into the water from the bridge and leisurely drinking a beer or two in inflated floats.
by Lindsey Johnstone
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