You May Be Able to Swim in the Seine the Next Time You Visit Paris

Swimming in the river has been banned for the last 100 years

The Seine River in Paris, which the city is trying to clean up in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics
Anyone care for a dip?

Much like the famed canals of Venice and Amsterdam, where swimming is either frowned upon or outright prohibited, or the Hudson River where swimming will make you the subject of of endless public scrutiny, the Seine in Paris has been rendered unswimmable for a century now.

When Paris hosted the Olympics in 1900, many of the swimming events actually took placed in the Seine river, according to Smithsonian magazine. However, since 1923, swimming has been banned in an effort “to protect swimmers currents, river traffic and water pollution.”

But little more than a year from now, the City of Light will host the Summer Olympics once again. It is their hope that, by July 2024, the river will be restored to its former glory and that it might be used not only for applicable aquatic events, but by the public as well.

“Swimming at the foot of the Eiffel Tower will be very romantic,” Emmanuel Grégoire, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of urban planning, told Time.

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Cleaning up the Seine is a massive undertaking, one that will cost $1.5 billion when all is said and done. And it won’t actually include purifying the river per se, so much as revamping the current infrastructure by adding a series of new “underground pipes, tanks and pumps” to prevent bacteria from making its way in.

“Do we have a 100% guarantee? The answer is no,” deputy mayor Pierre Rabadan told The New York Times. “If it rains for a week continually before the races, we know the quality of water — even with all the work that has been done — probably won’t be excellent.”

The good news is that last summer, hydrologists measuring fecal bacteria in the anticipated designated swimming areas deemed 90% of samples to be “clean enough.” (Of course, that still leaves 10% of samples presumably too fecal-heavy for swimmers, which still feels like a gamble.)

The “public pools” in the Seine won’t be open until 2025, after the conclusion of the Games, so you’ll have an opportunity to take cues from actual Olympians before taking the plunge yourself…though if you’ve ever jumped off the front of a boat into the Hudson River anywhere in the greater New York City area and lived to tell the tale, just know that you’re going to be just fine in the Seine either way.


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