Did you know the banks of the Seine River and the Bassin de la Villette turn into a Parisian beach resort each summer? Ever since 2002, when Mayor Bertrand Delanoë launched the first “Paris Plage” for all of the Parisians who couldn’t join the annual exodus from the city for the summer, it has become a beloved annual event, copied by cities all over the world.
For the 2019 edition the “beaches” of Paris Plage opened on a particularly hot and sunny day last week with the usual chaise lounges, imported sand, palm trees, and water misters.
Paris Plage takes place in two main sites: the historic quays in central Paris of the Right Bank (from Quai du Louvre to Quai Henri IV) and Left Bank between Port de Solferino and Pont Alexander III, now known collectively as Les Berges or Parc Rives de Seine; and the eastern Parisian extension of the Canal St-Martin, the Bassin de la Villette (19th arrondissement, metro Jaurès, Crimée or Laumière).
Parc Rives de Seine
Although a bit crowded on sunny afternoons, this part of Paris Plage is ideal for lounging, live music concerts and beautiful views of Paris. There are two areas with misters to cool off, foosball, pétanque/boules courts, art expositions, an open-air library, sand volleyball in front of the Hôtel de Ville afternoons from July 11-August 18, free danse, yoga, and tai chi sessions, and activity areas for kids. Sprinkled throughout are different lounge chairs, picnic tables, and hammock seating. The car-free quays are popular with runners, cyclists, and skaters of all ages as well as strolling beach bums, so watch your back.
Eating & Drinking
Dining options rage from snack bars and ice cream stands to café barges and restaurants such as Maison Maison (near Pont Neuf) and Les Nautes (near Pont de Sully). There are plenty of places to picnic if you bring your own food/drink. Happily, there are also free public restrooms so you can stay hydrated without fear.
Bassin de la Villette
The Bassin de la Villette is the widest section of the Canal St-MArtin just outside the Parc de la Villette. This is the place to come to escape the biggest crowds on Paris Plage, and to take full advantage of water sports, trampolines, zip lining, and swimming areas. Like the other Paris Plage site, there are lounge chairs, pétanque, snack bars and barge cafés, and plenty of kids activities. You can rent paddle boats, kayaks, and paddle boards, play badminton, discgolf or table tennis.
There are four swimming pools right on the water: two lap pools, a kiddie pool, and a 2-meter deep swimming pool. They’re free, but can only hold 300 swimmers (check the Affluences app to avoid busy times).
Some fun facts:
- 3.7 kilometers of “beach” over two locations
- 4 sand beaches with 2500 tons of sand
- 300 chaise lounges, 450 reclining beach chairs, 250 parasols, 26 hammocks
- 33 palm trees
- 30 rowboats, 10 sailboats, 12 canoes, 8 kayaks, 25 pedal boats (all in the Bassin de la Villette)
- 640 lifeguards
- 1200 security guards
- 8 snack bars and 4 ice cream stands
Some Rules & Advice
Parisians are actually pretty relaxed, so you can bring your dogs, your own food for a picnic, and even alcohol (unless you’re misbehaving). However (buzz kill alert): No topless bathing, g-string bikinis, or loud music allowed. For the moment, smoking is still permitted except around children’s play areas. Note that no one is allowed to take photos of the children’s play area (there are signs); in fact, just don’t take photos of any kids that aren’t your own.
Finally, be careful of pickpockets (like at any public beach), don’t forget your sunglasses, and get there early if you want a hammock!
Free entry. Open daily July 6th through September 1st, 10am-8pm in central Paris, 10am-10pm at La Villette (until midnight Friday-Saturday). Free restrooms and water fountains throughout (tissues and a reusable water bottle recommended). There are info kiosks at both Paris Plage sites with free print maps available. The official Paris Plage information website is QueFaire.Paris.fr but they haven’t yet created an English version.
More on Paris Plage
- Relaxing at Paris Plage while Gearing up for the Rentrée: commentary on the “Back-to-School” mood in Paris by Scott Carpenter
- The Seine before Paris Plage: historic photos of the Seine River