This year, August is ideal in Paris, with clear blue skies, cool breezes that brush away the summer heat, a gentle easy pace and relaxed ambiance. This comes as a welcome relief to the Lucky-one-and-only (Loo), the Uber-mensch, and I, after our 5-week whirlwind visit to North America, visiting family and friends while swatting mosquitoes the size of rats and grilling dinners under a golf umbrella in the unrelenting rain. (It also happened that my computer died while away, leaving me unable to post for a month! Mes Excuses, my apologies, dear readers.)
That experience left us all longing for a "real" vacation, Parisian-style. So we've resolved to profiter, as we say here in France, to benefit from the perfect weather and lack of humanity by visiting a different Paris Park or summer attraction everyday until La Rentrée, the very day when the crowds return and the pace of life revs back up to "normal" again.
We start with Paris Plage: the city's summer beachfront that stretches the length of the river Seine from mid-July to mid-August each year.
That is, since 2002, when Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoë closed the Seine expressway to traffic and deposited 3,000 tons of sand along the river's right bank to create a summer get-away for those unable to leave town.
Dotted amongst the sunbathers and lounge chairs are beach cafes, potted palm trees, hammocks, and picnic tables. Rollerbladers, bicyclists, and pedestrians cruise the sometime two-lane highway accompanied by live music, beach volleyball, tai chi lessons, and hip hop dancing. Water sprinklers and misting fountains help keep folks cool so they aren't tempted to jump into the river. A mobile library is even on hand to loan out books.
Paris Plage. A real treat for locals and visitors alike. Only in Paris, and only in August (as well as the end of July)!
Coming soon: Ile des Cygnes and Parc St. Cloud
Paris Plage from the Left Bank, by Remi Jouan, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Paris Plage from the plage itself by Sarah B. Towle