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Water way to race across the city of Paris

A flotilla of 500 paddlers are expected to take to the River Seine in Paris in the early hours of a cold morning this month.

After setting off from the National Library of France, their journey will take them down river, through the city centre, with the more enthusiastic taking a loop around the Cité islands, where Notre Dame is situated.

The Nautic Sup Paris Crossing on December 6 is part of the Salon Nautique de Paris which gets underway the day before and runs until December 13.

The stand-up paddle boards give competitors an all over body workout, which is just as well given the temperatures in the capital at this time of year.

This year 500 people are expected to take part in the 6th crossing, setting off at 8.00 in the morning.

Competitors can take in the sites of the Pont Neuf, Notre Dame, the Conciergerie, the Orsay Museum and the Alexander III Bridge as they pass through the capital on the 10km trip. Tickets for this year’s event sold out in 26 minutes and numbers are limited to 500 due to safety concerns.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo wants to bring back swimming to the Seine which has been banned since 1923. She has an eye on it as a possible venue for competitions were Paris to win its bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024.

Competitions have taken place in the waters with special authorisation and for five years competitors in the Paris Triathlon took to the river until 2012 when a swimmer became ill.

Since then swims have not been authorised in the river and the competitors have taken to the waters in Choisy-le-Roi.

While the water quality of the river has improved remarkably, the Agence Régionale de Santé says that bacteria levels in the city centre are still too high. Anyone caught swimming in the Seine faces a €40 fine.

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