The Paris Games are 31 days away, why are Parisians pooping in the river?

The French, specifically Parisians, have one thing on their minds: Merde!

As a city that loves a protest (who can forget when they piled their rubbish on the streets for weeks to protest changes to the pension age), it's not surprising that they're organising a 'sh*t flashmob' to showcase their disdain for the government's recent spending decisions regarding the 2024 Paris Olympics

Yes, you read correctly, some Parisians want to turn the Seine into Willy Wonka's chocolate river by pooping en-masse in their city's waterway. 

Here, we delve into what on earth is going on to cause an 'excrement protest' in the city of love

What do the Olympics and the Seine Poo Protest have to do with one another? 

Swimming in the Seine has been illegal since 1923. As a polluted waterway, it hasn't been considered safe for swimming. 

However, when bidding for the Paris Olympics, the government pledged to clean the waterway to appropriate health standards in order to host open-water swimming competitions like the triathlon and paratriathlons. 

There were many other reasons cleaning the Seine seemed favourable to city officials. "Swimming at the foot of the Eiffel Tower will be very romantic," Emmanuel Grégoire, deputy mayor of Paris told Time, alongside the fact that Paris gets very hot in the summer and cooling off in the Seine would be a great remedy for locals. 

The French government has been working on the clean-up for some time, with Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron confirming that they have paid up to €1.4 billion (approx. AUD $2.25 billion) to clean the river. 


The problem is that their cleaning—and thus the money spent on it—does not appear to have been worth it. 

Why? Because the river is still showing signs of pollution. 

Listen to Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky, where in this episode we discuss the 'poo protest'. Post continues after audio.

Is the Seine safe to swim in now?

parisian-france-poo-protestImage: Getty


According to the European branch of the Surfrider Foundation, which has been responsible for testing the water in the Seine for the last six months, it's not 100 per cent clean yet. 

Of 14 samples taken over this time, just one has shown water that is satisfactorily clean for swimming. 

Its website states that athletes will "risk having to compete in the polluted waters" if they take part in the races. So far, E.Coli and enterococci, which are intestinal bacteria that act as indicators of fecal pollution, have been found. 

"The measures and work already undertaken by the city to make the river swimmable are, in our view, a first step," they say.

Despite this, President Macron has told reporters that he would swim in the river to prove it was safe. 

"I'll do it, but I won't give you the date. You all risk being there," he reportedly told media.

Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said she would do it on June 23rd, a month ahead of when the games start on July 26. 

Hence why protesters have chosen this date as the date they intend to fling (or squat) their excrement into the river.

Why are Parisians sh*tting in the Seine? 

parisian-france-poo-protestImage: Getty


The movement began as a hashtag on social media called, 'Je Chie Dans La Seine Le 23 Juin', which roughly translates to 'I sh*t in the Seine on 23rd June'. 

The hashtag encouraged other Parisians, who are at their wit's end with their government's spending habits, to come down to the river on the 23rd June and do their business right into the city's main waterway. 

There are early reports that some protesters have already done their business in the river. 

"After putting us in sh-t it's up to them to bathe in our sh-t," a protest website reads. 

It's important to note that it is obviously completely counterproductive to the country's efforts and the money already poured into it for people to poo in the Seine, and it is also illegal.


Yet, protesters seemed determined to make a statement about how poorly they feel the French people have been treated in the lead up to the Olympics. 

From the so-called 'social cleansing' of homeless people and lower socioeconomic areas in the lead up to the Olympics to raising the price of metro travel from €2.15 to €4 just six days before the Olympics start, the citizens have had it with bearing the brunt of the games. 

The choice to host the Games' Opening Ceremony along the Seine has also raised security concerns, as well as the metro network's ability to cope with the sheer volume of visitors to the area. 

When you add how much the government has spent, the financial implications of hosting the games cannot be understated. 

Yet, the Centre for Law and Economics of Sport out of the University of Limoges has estimated that the games will also boost the French economy, bringing in as much as €10.7 billion (approx. AUD $16.7 billion) and create 250,000 jobs. 

It's important to note that there remains a lot of negativity toward Macron's government, since his decision to raise the pension age from 62 to 64 last year. 

So, will the French really do it? We will have to wait for the 23rd to find out. 

Feature image: Getty.