Here’s Why French People Are Talking About Pooping in the Seine

It’s a very shitty metaphor
Here’s Why French People Are Talking About Pooping in the Seine

If you’ve ever traveled to Paris and embarked upon the traditional tourist stroll along the Seine River, you probably found it pretty underwhelming. It’s a grayish brown color, smells like every bodily fluid all at once, and if you were thrown into it, you’d probably emerge as some kind of mutant supervillain. 

In that sense, it’s probably not much different from the urban river nearest to where you live. As they’d probably love to explain to you in colorful profanity you won’t understand anyway, the French aren’t responsible for your overly romanticized expectations.

It’s a problem, however, for the upcoming Olympic games, which includes swimming events that require open water. It’s been illegal to swim in the Seine since 1923, so a serious cleanup effort was in order — a $1.5 billion cleanup, to be exact. To assuage any lingering fears about taking a dip in the Bog of Eternal Stench, French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo have promised to personally go for a swim in the Seine to prove that it’s safe, giving Parisians the opportunity to do something very, very funny. Specifically, they’ve launched the campaign #JeChieDansLaSeineLe23Juin, literally “I’m shitting in the Seine on June 23,” the day of Hidalgo’s promised swim.

Naturally, this raises the question, “Why do Parisians want the mayor to swim in their poop?” 

Some claim to want to raise awareness of pollution in the Seine, but in that case, you’d think they’d welcome an expensive cleanup. Others claim to be doing it in protest of excessive spending on the Olympics while impoverished Parisians continue to suffer, potential security risks of holding the opening ceremony along the Seine, potential strain on the city’s transportation system and/or requiring laborers to work on holidays during the Games. 

Those are all valid reasons to demonstrate, but let’s be honest: It would just be funny to physically poop on the government. As one event website put it, “After putting us in shit, it’s up to them to bathe in our shit.” 

It would also be very French, as the country has a history of extreme protests. It’s quite literally the most French shit ever.

And honestly, it probably won’t even happen. It’s a funny joke, but they probably kick you out of Paris if you even admit that you defecate, let alone do it in public. It would also continue the time-honored French tradition of disappointing America, but on behalf of the land of the free, let’s make a deal, France: You poop on your mayor, and we’ll stop making coward jokes. 

Come on. We promise we’ll think you’re cool.

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