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A Beach in the Heart of Paris Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 in Culture

With the return of summer comes beach season. Volleyball, bikinis, and ice cream… Because France is surrounded by water on 3 of 5 sides, you’re bound to find a beach you’ll like. Tu veux faire un petit plouf (want to make a splash) in the Atlantic? Try a beach at Les Sables d’Olonne, a beautiful beach town in Western France. Prefer une petite baignade (a little dip) in la Méditeranée? Can’t go wrong with the options on the French Riviera down south. Want to sunbathe on the sand but still look up to see the Eiffel Tower? Sorry, Paris is landlocked. No beaches there…or are there?

In 2002, Bertrand Delanoë, the newly-elected mayor, decided to bring the beach to Paris. August is a prime time for vacation, and many shops close down for a few weeks. It’s the perfect time to head out to the beach. Some people aren’t able to leave the city, but that’s no reason to not be able to feel le sable (sand) between your toes. The banks of the Seine river are blocked off to host various beach activities including volleyball and sandcastles. To top it all off, il y a également des palmiers (there are also palm trees)!

At first, there was only one beach on the Rive Droite (The Right Bank of the river). Four years later in 2006, an additional beach was opened on the Rive Gauche (The Left Bank). Paris-Plage as it was called would henceforth be known as Paris-Plages (notice the –s?). The budget for the improvised beach has been cut in the past few years, but thousands of tons of sand are still brought in. The city made a nice hand-drawn map of beach locations this year.

 

This year, Paris-Plages is back for its 15th year. It opened on le 20 juillet (July 20th) and will run through le 23 août (August 23rd). In addition to the normal oversized lawn chairs, Paris-Plages is introducing some new events this year for everyone! There are chances to win entrance into the Louvre museum (they sponsor Paris-Plages and have a stand), see cute animals, and see The Little Prince and his plane. Want to learn Tai Chi? You’re in luck – there are free lessons! Coca-Cola has put into place quite a few sports: le football, le discgolf, et le badminton, par exemple (soccer, disc golf, and badminton, for example). In August, there’s a dance competition on un grand dancefloor on the beach. And that’s not all! You can read all the events planned here. It’s all free!

So, if you have the “misfortune” of being “stuck” in Paris and want to get out to the beach (or if you can’t decide between staying in the city or going to the beach), look no further than the Seine river! Just don’t swim in it…

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About the Author: Josh Dougherty

Just your typical francophile. If you have any topics you'd like me to discuss, feel free to let me know!