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 2021 edition, the “beaches” of Paris Plage take place from July 10th through September 13th in three locations: Rives de Seine (central Paris), Bassin de La Villette (northeast Paris at the top of the Canal St Martin), and — new this year — Les Jardins du Trocadéro (right across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower).
Rives de Seine (daily 10am-6:30pm)
This is the “original” Paris Plage with its chaise lounges, imported sand, palm trees, and water misters, and the most photogenic. Located on the historic quays in central Paris on the Right Bank (from Quai du Louvre to Quai Henri IV) and Left Bank between Port de Solferino and Pont Alexander III, this is now known collectively as Les Berges or Parc Rives de Seine. Although a bit crowded on sunny afternoons, this part of Paris Plage is ideal for lounging, DJ music sets (at “La Place” Wednesdays through Saturdays), and beautiful views of Paris. There are two areas with misters to cool off, foosball, pétanque/boules courts, art expositions, an open-air library, free Swedish Gym, boxing, and running coaching 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 (and your bags…yep, pickpockets). This year there will also be a Doctolib tent open 1-7pm where you can get info about Covid or make an appointment to get the vaccine, as well as a large vaccination tent on the parvis in front of the Hôtel de Ville where you can get vaccinated with or without an appointment through August 19th. The Paris Plage website has all of the dates and times of specific events happening throughout the summer.
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 (10am-10pm, weekends until midnight)
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 and swimming areas. Like the other Paris Plage site, there are lounge chairs, pétanque, snack bars and barge cafés, and plenty of kids activities. In the afternoons (1-7pm) you can rent paddle boats, kayaks, and paddle boards. All day long there is a climbing wall, boules, foosball (babyfoot) and trampolines. On Sunday mornings you’ll find breakdance classes!
There are four swimming pools right on the water (open daily 11am-9pm): 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). This year there’s a comic book library (“Bédéthèque”) and first-aid classes by the Secours Populaire and lifeguarding workshops “Geste qui Sauve”. See the full schedule at the official Paris Plages website.
Jardins du Trocadéro (from July 17th)
New this year, and to get everyone excited about the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, this year there will be sporting events celebrated around Trocadéro Gardens, including retransmission of the Tokyo Olympics on the big screen, international skateboarder demonstrations, the Quai 54 World Streetball Championships, and the European Basketball Cup Championships (men’s and women’s). Check out the schedule here.
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.
And — Covid oblige — it’s still a good idea to keep your distance or wear a mask when grouped closely together. There are medical tents throughout and safety monitors to make sure everyone is playing it safe.
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 10th through September 13th, 10am-6:30pm in central Paris, 10am-10pm at La Villette (until midnight Saturday-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