Next to Nantes, the increasingly expensive natural bathing spot

19 July 2022 at 16.56 – Changed: 20 July 2022 at 8.29 by Emilie PLANTARD

The Roche-Ballue leisure center in Bouguenais is well known to the residents of Nantes for its water point and its beach, accessible by bus. Its access pays off in the summer, but for non-residents of the city it has more than doubled in 2 years, and this new price is slowing users down…

The heat wave has subsided in western France and the freshness points are particularly popular, especially for swimming. On the Nantes side, La Roche-Ballue is a must. Accessible by bus from mainland France, it is very busy in the summer, but it may be a little less this year due to the entrance fee… From 3.50 euros in 2020, it has gone to 5 euros in 2021 and 8 euros this year . On the spot, many families discover it when they pay… And it ticks a bit! “The afternoon of 8 euros… We are only there to go to a water point and it is a tribute… I paid 26 euros, we are 4, it is an excursion that is still a bit expensive… And that that there is no difference whether you come for 1 hour or the whole day, there can be a half-day rate. We will not be back… We are 2 adults and 2 children, 28 euros! It is expensive. We paid 40 euros, there are 7 of us. I admit that it slows down a bit… It might slow down a bit and be more calm in a sense.

The leisure base pays from 1eh July to August 31, 8 euros for adults not resident in Bouguenais, 6 euros for children from 6 years. For the inhabitants of the city, the price is much more attractive, it is 3 euros. The 13 hectare grounds are landscaped, swimming is supervised and a bar is available, users appreciate these services, so this increase makes them think…”The card of 10 you pay 5 euros. You have to take them out, but it’s really clean, there’s entertainment for the kids, I don’t think it’s that bad… We’re alone, we only have our 8 euros to pay, but I remember when I had my 3 kids, it’s not the same anymore… It’s between the pool and the beach, we’re outside for the kids, it’s great and it pays off… We come because it’s very hot, but I won’t come every week!”

Users of La Roche Ballue in Bouguenais, this summer

Credit: Emilie Plantard

A call to the metropolis

For the non-bouguenaisiens, that’s still a 60% increase in 1 year. A strong gesture from the town hall, site manager. But the mayor, Sandra Impériale, justifies this with maintenance and operating costs that are mainly controlled by the town hall and therefore by the residents’ taxes. “More than 80% of the people who want to swim in the inner suburbs are apparently not residents of Bougnais. So it seemed logical to me to take charge of this island of freshness, especially since we have 420,000 euros in operating costs and 12 people working there during the season. And I find it difficult to pay for an island of freshness that is a big city.

A dilemma in the middle of a heat wave

This increase is therefore above all a strong signal to Nantes Métropole, which only subsidizes the operating costs of La Roche-Ballue up to 20,000 euros, or 3,000 euros less than in 2021. The town hall of Bouguenais would like to benefit, in the meantime it involves users, who do not live in the municipality, and actually punish the most modest users. A bad decision when this summer of 2022 could be one of the hottest ever recorded in the region and cool islands are rare. Sandra Impériale regrets it, but she had to make a choice. “The user fees have been increased she says, but we don’t want to raise taxes. And honestly, we had a request from the Bouguenaisiens to reclaim the site because there were too many people. We tried to meet these requests and at the same time tried to challenge the metropolis, because yes, I think everyone should have access to an island of freshness. It is not easy, but I am therefore appealing to the metropolis, which puts 100 million euros between the Jules Verne museum and the Herring Tree. There I ask just 420,000 euros per year for this island of freshness.

The revenue from public pricing is uncertain. They were 93,500 euros in 2021.

The vice-president of Nantes Métropole in charge of tourism, Emmanuel Terrien, has planned to meet the mayor of Bouguenais at the start of the school year in September on this topic.

Sandra Impériale, Mayor of Bouguenais

Credit: Emilie Plantard

Roche Ballue

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