Parisians love our Seine-side entertainment, and the newest cultural establishment to take up residence on the quays is Quai de la Photo: Centre d’Art Photographique. Run by the same group as the Fluctuart floating urban art gallery in the 7th, this gallery moored at the foot of the Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand in the 13th arrondissement is dedicated to contemporary photography, “bringing together the great names of photography and emerging artists from France and abroad.”
Entrance is free, so you can pop in and have a look at the latest exposition without any obligation. The current exhibition through September 24th is Martin Parr (inside the gallery) and Clementine Schneidermann (on the terrace).
While there, check out the specialized photography bookshop, La Comète, which was located in the 10th arrondissement for many years. They will be hosting book launches and signings throughout the year.
Drinking and Dining
You can also just visit the restaurant-bar (which, honestly, seems to dominate this space more than the gallery), with seating both inside the galley and on the outdoor terrace from May through October. They serve cocktails, bar snacks, and a menu of food that’s supposedly different than what’s served at the neighboring quayside bars overlooking the Seine.
“While offering friendly service, the team concocts a fusion cuisine, dishes revisited with original flavors influenced by Italian, Oriental and Japanese influences, recipes that delight the taste buds and invite you to come back again and again. All the ingredients offered on Quai de la Photo are fresh and of French origin, organically grown and chosen with subtlety.” I haven’t tried it yet, but will report back when I do later this month.
Drinks prices are in line with most of Paris: beers from €6, cocktails €10-12, espresso €2.50. Bar snacks include charcuterie and cheese platters €20, fish & chips €18, veggie platter €13. The restaurant menu is €19 for two courses or €24 for three. There’s no à la carte option, but there are vegetarian dishes.
Making the most of their position on the water, they also propose 50-minute boat rides of the Seine, circling the Ile de la Cité and Ile St-Louis. You can book a spot on one of the small group excursions (there’s room for up to 12 passengers) every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening (weather permitting) at 6:30pm, 7:30pm and 9pm. The cost is just €12 per person, or privatize the whole boat for you and your friends for €290. Reservations are made online, so you can see right away if there are any spots left. If you’re not sure the weather will be dry, you may want to just show up and try your luck at least 15 minutes before the scheduled cruise. At the moment it’s new enough that you can usually still get spots at the last minute (this is the 13th after all, not exactly an Instagrammer-infested corner of Paris).
You’ll see a sleek wooden speed boat parked in the indoor marina, but don’t get too excited about that, because the €12 ride is on the Zéro de Conduit electric catamaran moored around the back (I won’t say “hidden”, but you have to know it’s there to find it). The difference between the two is like wearing Crocs vs Louboutins. If you want the sext boat, you’ll have to contact Quai de la Photo to reserve it (no prices are mentioned on the site, and the bartender advised me to send an email for more info).
They also show these sleek speedboats in the photos promoting their upcoming themed photo cruises, where you will get a lesson in photography with some of the best scenery in the world to practice on. The next ones in English are “Under the Bridges of Paris” (September 30th) and “Paris from the Seine” (September 22nd), but as of today it’s still not possible to book it directly on their website (“coming soon”), but the price is €245/person for half-day course and cruise.
Photography classes (without the cruise) are also possible in English and French for €225/person, six people max per class. The next ones in English are September 23rd (Introduction to Outdoor Portrait Photography) and September 29 (Introduction to Studio Portrait Photography)
Quai de la Photo: The Photographic Arts Center on the Seine
9 Port de la Gare, 13th
Metro Quai de la Gare or Bercy
Open daily May to October from noon to midnight (closed Monday and Tuesday in winter).