- The leisure economy of the Seine suffers from the absence of foreign tourists.
- The sightseeing boats are aimed at French customers.
- The second confinement threatens to sink them.
On the Seine, Christine Bravo thought she had her head out of the water. The television host had imagined her concept, “Under the petticoats of the Seine”, just two weeks before the first confinement. In July, she found her audience by offering ten passengers the opportunity to (re) discover Parisian monuments thanks to historians who tell anecdotes in an offbeat tone, like the Big heads, RTL’s cult show. “It immediately took! It’s funny ! People ask the experts questions. We all start talking! », Rejoiced Christine Bravo.
But the announcement of the reconfinement came to torpedo the idea of the star of the Luxembourg resort … for now. She hopes for better days. “We still get calls. People want to offer Christmas gifts to their loved ones for cruises in the spring ”, tempers Clara Brunel, the press secretary of the river company. But for the other companies, the glimmer of hope is tenuous.
A shipwreck for professionals
Gaël Rabeson and Raphaël Oren, managers of Lakana Cruise, were less affected by the pandemic than the big tourist companies. They offered small-format cruises. “There is an intimate side,” they explain. On board their boat, 400 people, in groups of four to six, sailed on the Seine during the summer holidays. But since the speech of the President of the Republic announcing the second confinement, the activity of the duo has been suspended. The two friends were, however, on the verge of offering plaids and meals ordered from caterers on board their two boats this winter. In the area, many, seeing their plans thwarted, fear a final shipwreck.
The two big companies of the Seine, Bateaux-Mouches and Bateaux-Parisiens, are in a dark period. Thibaut Sainclair and Arnaud Daniel, respective directors of the two operators, announce a 90% drop in turnover due to the pandemic and the first containment. However, they had just adapted their offer, since foreign tourists, especially Asian and American, had disappeared from the capital. They usually represented two out of three passengers. Before the announcement of the second confinement, Thibaut Sainclair still wanted to believe it. “It will be a parenthesis, there will be no before or after. Foreign tourists will come back, ”he said. Now, the horizon is blurry for professionals, despite state aid and partial unemployment granted to retain staff.
Families on board
Since this summer, passengers have benefited from a “child” ticket offered for an adult ticket purchased on board the Bateaux-Parisiens, an operation called “children first”. The company was obviously targeting a French family audience. “We wanted the little one to discover the capital”, tells a Strasbourg couple whose son was delighted to discover Parisian monuments. “In July, we welcomed nearly 1,000 children”, rejoiced Nicolas Poncy, communications manager for Bateaux-Parisiens.
On the Bateaux-Mouches, this summer, typical Corsican products were offered to passengers. The two carriers nevertheless reduced the sails: only one in two boats was circulating.
Continuous service and masks offered
On the quai de la Seine, Fabien felt he had found the right formula. The co-manager of Bastringue had continued to adapt his offer after the first confinement. He set up 150 covers a day, barely making 50 since the curfew. The bosses of Bastringue had set up a take-out service. On the other side of the quay, two faculty students benefited from the “Two pizzas bought, one mask offered” formula at the Odilon café. “It’s pretty cool. It allows you to have small gifts! One of the two launches, amused. On the quays of Bastille, Austerlitz and La Rapée, restaurateurs had also adapted by offering continuous service.
Following the announcement of the reconfinement, the Union of Trades in the Hospitality Industry (UMIH) issued a press release criticizing the “forced and brutal closure which sounds a new halt for professionals”. She asked for additional aid for a sector which, according to her, risks disappearance.
20 seconds of context
The series “The new course of the Seine” was produced by a promotion of nine work-study students from the Paris school of journalism ESJ-Pro, under the direction of their trainers and the 20 Minutes team. The subjects paint the changing relationship between Paris and its river, the image of which is upset by the constant improvement in water quality.