The Seine Is Opening for Swimming

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Paris, is the world’s fifth most visited city, with more than 15 million foreign tourists traveling to the French capital in 2015 alone. Visitors come to the city to marvel at the Eiffel Tower, crowd the Louvre to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, dedicate an entire day to one of the city’s dozens of food-centric guided tours — and even to go for a cool, refreshing swim?

That last one might sound a little odd at first, as the landlocked city is hardly known for its baths or beaches, but as early as next year swimming Paris’ Seine river could be a reality. As part of a massive plan released by the city government last week, Paris aims to eventually have the entirety of the Seine clean enough for locals and tourists alike to take a dip wherever they like.

Swimming in the Seine will be just a small part of improvements set forth by the Parisian government, which is looking to make its city is attractive as humanly possible in order to make a strong bid to host the 2024 Olympics. The city’s proposal includes new tramways, more than $168 million of added bike lanes and even a walking trail that encircles the entire city.

Paris will have to get through some tough competition in order to secure the 2024 games though, as Rome, Budapest, Hamburg and Los Angeles are all officially in the running as well. These cities won’t go down without a fight either, with Los Angeles—considered Paris’ co-frontrunner—recently securing bipartisan Congressional funding in order to make itself more suitable for the games.

Regardless, Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo said last week that the 2024 bid gives the city a chance to improve its transportation and environmental protection, regardless of the outcome. In the river’s case, preparations for the Olympics would turn a body of water currently so polluted that the city actually fines its residents €15 for swimming in it into one of the most awesome aquatic activities imaginable.

As many of these additions to one of the world’s most popular cities seem to be inevitable regardless of the outcome of the 2024 bid, you can catch us backstroking to the Louvre as early as this time next year.

Dillon Thompson is a travel intern with Paste and a student at the University of Georgia.