Paris 2024: Parisian barge owners looking forward to summer 2024 and the Games

They could rejoice, and they are quite ready to do so

Paris 2024: Parisian barge owners looking forward to summer 2024 and the Games

They could rejoice, and they are quite ready to do so. In the summer of 2024, between the opening ceremony, which will take place on July 26 in Paris on the Seine, and the various events which will take place in the river (freestyle swimming, triathlon, paratriathlon), they will be at the forefront of Olympic Games, then Paralympic Games. But, today, the owners of the barges moored along the quays, particularly those who operate restaurants, bars or nightclubs, say they are rather expectant about their future conditions for carrying out their activities.

“There are a lot of uncertainties at the moment,” summarizes Arnaud Séité, co-owner and director of the company Le Marcounet, which operates several restaurant barges. “We are waiting for information, but I have the impression that we are all in the dark,” he adds.

On November 29, the Paris police headquarters presented the security and traffic perimeters that will be put in place during the Games. Two security zones will surround the Olympic sites as closely as possible and two traffic zones will be established around them: they will only concern motorized vehicles (two or four wheels), but not bicycles or pedestrians.

In the blue zone, only the vehicles of people who live there, work there or who have to go to a business or restaurant (delivery drivers) will be authorized to circulate; in the red zone, vehicle circulation will be prohibited, unless there is an exemption, the prefecture having mentioned the use of a QR Code.

The vast majority of barges (residential or commercial) will be able to remain at their usual mooring place, observing the security measures of the perimeter in which they are located. Only twenty houseboats, located in what will be the athletes' disembarkation zone at the Trocadéro for the opening ceremony, will be moved, for a few days, to Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine).

Consultation phase until January

“The major fundamentals have been laid,” underlines Olivier Jamey, president of the Paris Port Community, an association bringing together around a hundred players in the economic and cultural sectors. “It seems quite logical to me that at this stage we haven’t yet stabilized everything. We will still be in the dark for a long time regarding the details to be worked out,” he seeks to reassure.

Under the aegis of the Paris police headquarters, a consultation phase on these security and traffic plans has been underway since the beginning of December. It will last until January. Concerning local elected officials, businesses, economic and institutional players, in Paris and in the various Ile-de-France departments concerned, it must lead to definitively finalizing the measures.

“Nothing is definitive,” assured the Paris police prefect, Laurent Nuñez, during the presentation of the plans, while affirming that he wanted to both “ensure security” and “penalize economic life as little as possible, but also social life and the life of local residents”.

It is the opening ceremony on the Seine which is the subject of the greatest vigilance, the security measures which will apply having to be drastic given the number of athletes and personalities who will be present. This could be the most inconvenient time for houseboat owners.

Several days before July 26, the Seine will be closed to navigation and a very strict security perimeter will be deployed on the low quays. “All sailing and non-sailing boats will be secured a few days before,” explains Jamey. “The principle of this perimeter is to maintain access to commercial establishments for the public,” specifies the police headquarters.

“I went from ‘this is going to be great’ to ‘this is going to be hell’.”

Apart from this somewhat unusual time of the opening ceremony, “everything should function normally, except the areas disrupted by the competitions,” explains Olivier Jamey, who attends these consultation meetings. Among the traders interviewed, however, the tone is different. There is concern about the fluidity of their activities: are their staff and suppliers not likely, for example, to encounter access difficulties with the filtering zones?

“We have the broad outlines but little information,” regrets Damien (who requested anonymity), sales manager of a barge rented to companies for events. “I thought we would know more at the end of the year, but that’s not the case,” he continues, saying he’s a little disillusioned: “I went from “it’s going to be great” to “it’s going to be great.” be hell”. »

“Today, we have nothing concrete,” adds Arnaud Séité, whose barges live largely through the organization of events (corporate cocktails, weddings, concerts). “There, the big problem is that we have, for example, requests for weddings for the summer of 2024, and we are making them wait because we are waiting for more information” on accessibility.

In the summer of 2023, one of its catering barges, moored at the town hall quay, welcomed four hundred people per day on average. Attendance that he plans to double over the Olympic period. “I hope to have more visitors, we have the reception capacity if people come and go,” underlines Mr. Séité, who relies mainly on reservations from national delegations, private companies or even groups of journalists.

“A request to create an information site was made. This would make it possible to have a reference place accessible to everyone, explains Olivier Jamey. We work in the most positive spirit with the authorities. » Some barge managers we met sought to put things into perspective: working in a hurry and permanent adaptation would have become the norm for many since the Covid crisis. There are still seven months before the start of the Games so that the banks of the Seine are not… quays of fog.