| Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd July 2016
PARIS - SORBONNE
IREST, EIREST, UNIVERSITE DE PARIS 1 PANTHEON SORBONNE
VAL-DE-MARNE TOURISM BOARD
The conference European Rivers and Towns: Creation, development and perspectives of a (re)newed conquest : Tourism, Leisure, Heritage aims to explore these points within the framework of European cities. The objective is to highlight this European fundamental belief of the right to leisure activities and the right to adopt others. This is in relation to increased leisure and free time given in society before and now in the context of urban rivers.
Since the 19th century, rivers have played a crucial role in several social activities, sports and cultural but also working class leisure activities. These activities such as swimming, canoeing, fishing and more recreational activities like listening to music, dancing and having fun have spread all along the rivers. It is a place where people from different age groups and backgrounds come together. With more and more spare time, these areas were visited a lot on Sundays and during the summer.
These activities are a European feature which was strengthened through transport development during the Industrial Revolution. Close to Paris, London or Berlin, some areas were devoted to leisure, recreation but also to festive events. They became vacation spots for townsfolks who wanted to escape from the city.
Middle-classes were the first ones to go to the banks of urban rivers. This can be ascribed to their support for the social hygiene movement, their interest for Romanticism, their renewed relation with nature and the new trend for travel and sports.
When working classes also got more spare time, they began to frequent the banks of urban rivers too. A new form of leisure was thus born.
Through a sometimes complicated urban History, this European cultural phenomenon passed on a cultural and natural heritage to us. This heritage is linked to the past but carries on in the present with new activities practised along urban rivers.
In order to understand, protect and enhance this heritage, we think that it is essential to work together on the realisation of a network of European regions involving leisure and recreation along urban rivers. This network could be certified as a “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” thereafter.