Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo’s son reveals challenge to swim length of Seine

Twenty year-old Arthur Germain, the son of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and the youngest French person ever to swim the Channel, is planning his next challenge - swimming 780km along the entire length of the River Seine.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo's son reveals challenge to swim length of Seine
Swimming in the Seine in Paris is currently not allowed, swimming events in the city currently take place in the Ourcq Canal. Photo: AFP

His challenge, titled “La Seine à la nage” (Swimming the Seine) is to swim the entirety of the river’s trajectory, from its source near Dijon, through Paris and all the way to Le Havre with no assistance.

Germain is the youngest son of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and became the youngest person to swim across the channel in 2018, at the age of 16.

“By swimming across the Channel I reached the culmination of all my efforts. Swimming is a discipline that I have been practising since the age of 4,” Germain told Enlarge your Paris.

This would be the first time anyone has attempted to swim down the Seine. Germain will swim independently for 52 days starting on June 6th, completing 15km for 6 hours a day.

To carry his things, he’ll have to pull a kayak weighing around 60 kg with all the necessary material on it.

A doctor will accompany him throughout the journey to keep an eye on his health, as the swim has an extra challenge – the quality of the water, particularly through Paris.

Making the River Seine clean and safe for swimming within Paris is a longtime goal of the city. The promise was first made by former President Jacques Chirac when he was mayor of Paris in 1988.

Thirty two years later and although progress has been made, swimming in the Seine in the city is still not allowed. Anne Hidalgo’s administration have been working on making it clean enough to swim in, and several swimming events for the 2024 Paris Olympics are currently scheduled to take place in the Seine.

Germain hopes that his project will be an opportunity to talk about the environment and sustainability.

READ ALSO: How plans are progressing in Paris to make the seine safe for swimming by 2024

He is currently working with the French GoodPlanet Foundation founded by filmmaker and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and is planning on conducting workshops on biodiversity and pollution in local schools.

His adventure will be made into a documentary and a series of photographs.

Member comments

  1. It appears a silly challenge for a young superfit person, swimming 6 hours a day for 52 days. If he start at 6 in the morning he’s finished by midday, than after a french lunch he rest the rest of the day? Where’s he sleeping? Why only 6hours a day? Only 15 km a day? I pressume the only good coming out of this is that the river gets an extra clean up.

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro