Annual tour on the river Seine through the center of Paris (14 km):Traversée de Paris. Kayaking on the Seine through the city center is prohibited, but every year in September a 14 km tour was organized. Unfortunately this tradition was stopped in 2007.
I was there on September 18, 2005. With two of my friends we were invited by the French kayaking club SNTM. In the early morning we met at the clubhouse in St. Maur on the Marne. We put all the kayaks on a trailer and with a bus we went to the starting point at Quai St. Bernard near Pont d'Austerlitz. There was a beautiful full moon very low above the city and the weather looked very promising. There was no time for making photos however, as we had to be at the starting point and on the river by 8.30 am. For this tour you can enlist in advance on the website or on the spot between 7.00 am and 8.15 am. This year there were 1300 participants, so you can imagine it was quite chaotic at the starting point. People were very nervous getting on the water in time as lanching any boats after 8.45 is strictly forbidden. For the occasion a floating pier was made in the river, a bit small for so many people. But everyone managed to get on the river in time.
At Pont d'Issy we turned left into a narrow passage. After a few kilometers the passage joined with the Seine again and at this point just after Pont de Sèvres was the finish. There is a kayak club along the river so there are good kayak piers available. We had to carry the kayak across the tramway station and across a busy road. At the museum of ceramics (Musée National de Céramique) is a big parking space. The people of SNTM had brought the kayak trailer here for transportation back to the clubhouse. At the finish it was a nice gathering of participant with free baguetttes, coffee and apples. There was a raffle for a very nice looking kayak, but nobody of my group won. Although this tour is held since 1947 it is not well known outside France. There were very few foreigners participating.
Some people had their own way to get on the river. At 8.30 we started. Every year some people enjoy making a race of it and try to be the first to reach the finish. There's no prize to be won however. So most people took their time and enjoyed the tour.
Not all was quiet. The river police passed by in high speed boats to make sure everyone kept to the right of the river. They made some nice big waves, but the real waves came when this boat passed by. But everything went well and I saw nobody turn over.
Early morning sun behind the Eiffel Tower.