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Parisians to bathe in a clean Seine by 2024?

While most Parisians would rather move to the banlieues than voluntarily get in the Seine, the city's mayor Anne Hidalgo has claimed the Paris river will be clean enough to swim in by the 2024 Olympics.

Parisians to bathe in a clean Seine by 2024?
Could Paris Plage become a real beach, one where you can swim at? Photo: AFP

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.

 

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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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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