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Aerial view of Paris. REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq

An aerial view shows the Eiffel Tower, the Seine River and the Paris skyline, France, June 19, 2023. REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq

France Reaches Deal For Ample Grain Flow On Seine During Olympics

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February 18, 2024

By Nayla Razzouk

(Bloomberg) –A million tons of grains shipped along the Seine River are set to reach their destination this summer — despite a brief halt for the Paris Olympic Games. 

Organizers reached a deal with grains producers to curb the amount of time the river will close to traffic in Paris due to the Olympics, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau told reporters Thursday. It will now be shut for 6.5 days leading up to the start of the Games on July 26, instead of 10 days originally planned.

The Seine, which cuts through the heart of the French capital, is one of Europe’s most iconic rivers and is expected to play a large role in the Games, including the opening ceremonies and swimming events. But France is also Europe’s biggest grains producer, with a powerful agricultural lobby.

While hosting the Olympics is very important for France, it “cannot delay the periods of harvest,” said Jean-Francois Loiseau, president of industry group Intercereales. “Water transportation is also very important for decarbonizing, so we need to remain coherent in that sense.”

More than one million tons of grains are transported on the Seine during the summer season, or about 20-25 vessels a day, according to Loiseau. Vessels carry cargoes to local regions and also to international markets through ports such as Rouen in the north of France.

Tensions have been high as French producers of grains and other products have joined other farmers across Europe to block roads and protest against mostly environmental measures that they say are pushing them out of business.

In another big test for organizers, swimming and triathlon events are also set to be held in the Seine, despite previous failed attempts for races canceled because of water pollution.

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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