Underground swimming in Paris, from Bastille to République:
After having met Jérôme in Morocco last Winter, and having some swim sessions with him several times in the frozen canal, several months ago he showed me photos of a place that would seem to be the grail of the Parisian wild swimmer: the “Canal Saint Martin” underground!
The underground part from bastille to République (green part):
Two kilometers of underground in the center of Paris, linking the “Port de l’arsenal” of Bastille to République. Located a few steps from my home, I myself had no idea of existence there.
A magnificent universe under the feet of the Parisians (photo taken on Internet)
The arrival of our friend Valentin on Paris, a super-warrior-super-wild swimmer who is resting at home for a preparation for a double Iron-man, will trigger the hostilities, we call to join our friend Lucie because we all met in Dakhla last winter, and we are reuniting a team with whom we had already had a good time!
The plan is super simple: to get in the water in Bastille, to go up the 2km of underground and to leave the tunnel at the level of the lock of the Temple street.
As usual, we go there very early in the morning, as discreetly as possible, not to give any bad ideas to passers and children, because of course, it is forbidden to swim in Paris.
The Team Lucie, Jérôme, and Valentin.
So, we leave a car at the starting point, with Lucie we carry a waterproof bag in order to carry flip-flops, towels, T-shirts and dry shorts to look like other pedestrians at the exit (James Bond trip).
For my part I get some fins, because I am slower than my friends and so to be able to follow them pulling my waterproof bag and camera …
Welcome in a dreamy world:
We enter the “port de l’arsenal”, we change very discreetly, and we slip into the water at the entrance to the tunnel. It is (very) dark, I only have tinted swimming goggles, having forgotten the others in London last weekend, and I see nothing at all, only way to orientate: aim the skylights Located more or less randomly in the canal.
Follow the light:
The water is warm (between 22 and 24 °C), very clear, as soon as we pass under an hole, we see well the bottom from above, the vault of the tunnel made of brick is magnificent, in the entrails of Paris, so exotic, so unexpected, so close to me! The adventure is decidedly at the corner, it reminds me a little of the catacombs!
Clear water and butterfly under the boulevard!
At the exit, the guard of the lock comes to ask us what we do there, and seemed even more disturbed to know from where we arrive, because there is no exit on 2km in downstream…
Exit at the lock of the temple:
An extraordinary experience, under a very original idea of our friend Jérôme, and especially accompanied by Lucie and Valentin, the valiant swimmers of the canal!
I would like to remind you once again that swimming in Paris is strictly forbidden, we are all “good swimmers” who have studied the place well before we get in the water, and we all have good knowledge Rescue and first aid in the water, please take care.
Text and photos: Alex Voyer
Happiness is in the canal: