Lonely Planet Writer

From this weekend you will be able to take a swim in a Paris canal

If you’re travelling to Paris this summer, don’t forget to pack your swimming costume because the French capital is set to open three new pools in the Bassin de la Villette canal on July 15.

Reflection of Paris, on the Canal Saint-Martin, which connects the Canal de l'Ourcq to the river Seine.
Reflection of Paris, on the Canal Saint-Martin, which connects the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine. Image by Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Following on from a successful pilot scheme last year, the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has confirmed that the basin’s water is now clean enough to allow bathers to swim in it. The three new pools, each varying in depth, have been erected in the 19th arrondissement. They’re on the south side of the Quai de la Loire, where the Canal Saint-Martin and Canal de l’Ourcq meet and one pool will be reserved for children. Announcing the news on Twitter, Mayor Hidalgo tweeted: ‘We promised! From this summer for Paris Plages, you will be able to swim in the Bassin de La Villette.’

Speaking about the purity of the water, Celia Blauel, who oversees Paris’ waterways, said: ‘the results show 15-20 traces of bacteria, while the top limit is 100 per millilitre. We have been taking action for five years and the water is of a high quality.’ Over 1000 visitors are expected to use the new swimming pools each day with the city authorities monitoring its popularity. After years of work, Paris City Hall is hoping to make the swimming pools a regular summer occurrence.

The pools are the latest development along the riverbanks in the city. To much fanfare and a plenty protest, the City Hall has banned motorised vehicles from the banks of the Seine. Instead, a ten-hectare park known as the Rives de Seine has been created with leisure and relaxation facilities, improved pedestrianised areas, green spaces and sports pitches. Since traffic was banned along the riverbanks, pollution has reduced by 25%.

This article was originally published on 2 June 2017 and was updated on 11 July.