For the first time in a century, Paris is making history by announcing plans to allow swimming in the iconic River Seine. This decision comes after a monumental cleanup effort spanning several years in preparation for the highly anticipated 2024 Olympic Games to be held in the City of Lights. The upcoming Paris 2024 Games have a special significance as they commemorate the 100th anniversary of France's first-ever hosting of the Olympics back in 1924.
While the River Seine has always been picturesque, it has unfortunately been deemed unfit for swimming due to high toxicity levels, making it unsuitable even for aquatic life. At one point in time, Parisians enjoyed the river's waters for swimming and bathing until pollution led to a ban in 1923, marking a dramatic shift in its use. However, the tide is turning as the "Swimming Plan," initiated in 2018, is now bearing fruit, paving the way for locals and visitors alike to use this historic waterway again. Parisian authorities are thrilled to reintroduce the river as a recreational spot, aligning it with the legacy of the upcoming Olympic Games, which are returning to the city after a century-long hiatus.
Over the past century, the Seine had been primarily used to transport goods and people or, regrettably, as a dumping ground for discarded bicycles and other debris. Yet, the ambitious 1.4 billion-euro (USD 1.55-billion) cleanup plan, ongoing for years, has experienced a surge in momentum, thanks to the influence of the Olympic games. With the River Seine opening up to swimmers and leisure activities, Parisians and travellers will find a renewed sense of joy and connection with their beloved city. As the Seine reclaims its place as a symbol of Parisian life, the forthcoming 2024 Olympics is set to be a turning point offering a revitalized experience for the future.
Embracing this new era of river use, Parisians and tourists can now embark on unique adventures along the Seine, offering unparalleled views of some of the city's most iconic landmarks. Here are some must-see attractions you can glimpse from the Seine.
The Louvre Museum A world-renowned cultural treasure, takes on a grandiose allure when viewed from the river. The boat ride provides varying perspectives of this majestic Parisian attraction, once a medieval fort and now the world's largest museum, housing an awe-inspiring collection of over 5,000 artworks, including masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
Eiffel Tower Paris's most famous symbol presents its most enchanting vistas from the river. A boat cruise allows visitors to appreciate the tower's majestic beauty from different angles, with the Pont d'Iéna bridge providing an especially captivating view, connecting the tower to the charming Trocadero district on the north side.
Grand Palais and Petit Palais The Grand Palais and Petit Palais stand as elegant masterpieces at a bend in the River Seine. Originally constructed for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, these palaces still exude their timeless allure. The Grand Palais and its smaller sibling, the Petit Palais, boast stunning glass roofs and impressive facades that have earned them must-see status in Paris. To marvel at these architectural wonders, one can cruise beneath the magnificent Pont Alexandre III, widely regarded as the city's most splendid bridge.
Cover photo The Eiffel Tower is Paris's most famous symbol and can be seen from the river. Credit Shutterstock
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