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How to Enjoy Paris Plages

Paris Plage

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, free and open to everyone, copied by cities all over the world.

Paris Plages Poster 2023

New for 2023

For the 2023 edition, the “beaches” of Paris Plage take place from July 8th through September 3rd in two locations: Rives de Seine (Central Paris along the Seine) and Bassin de La Villette (northeast Paris at the top of the Canal St Martin), similar to previous years. Here are a few new activities for the 2023 edition:

  • For the first time in its history Paris Plages will have a theme, celebrating French Polynesia! This is a nod to Tahiti, which will host the surfing events for the 2024 Summer Games, the only Olympic site located outside mainland France.
  • The big news this year is that there will finally be a special nautical base set up on the Seine River, open every Sunday morning on the Quai de la Rapée, so that you can enjoy water activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and boating right in the heart of Paris! Open to adults and kids 15 and over who know how to swim (minors must be accompanied by an adult) Sundays from 8am-11:45am. Not sure how many people will be able to participate in such a small window, so get there early if you’re interested.
  • Legendary Parisian street artist Babs will be creating a 1750m² street art mural in the Henri IV tunnel (Quai de la Rapée) from July 17-August 11. The theme will be the surfing events of the 2024 Summer Games which will take place in Teahupo’o, Tahiti. The mural will be open for guided visits by the Urban Art Crew every weekend 5-7pm from July 22 through September 3.
  • Paris Rendez-Vous, the boutique of the Paris Tourism Office in the Hôtel de Ville (entrance across from BHV at 29 Rue de Rivoli, 4th) sells official “Paris Plage” postcards and posters, in addition to other unique souvenirs “Made in France” (and many “Made in Paris”). Open Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday from 10am-7pm (and there’s A/C and a drinking fountain!)

FAKE NEWS ALERT: Don’t believe any of the outdated photos and descriptions talking about the “sandy” beaches of Paris Plage. They haven’t used sand there in years (expensive and bad for the environment). Also, there are no Paris Plage events scheduled at Trocadéro this summer.

Rives de Seine (daily 10am-10pm)

This is the “original” Paris Plage with its chaise lounges, palm trees, and water misters. Located on the historic quays in central Paris on the Right Bank (from Quai du Louvre to Quai Henri IV) this is now known as Les Berges or Parc Rives de Seine on the Right Bank. Although a bit crowded on sunny afternoons, this part of Paris Plage is ideal for lounging, DJ music sets (and dancing in the evenings), and beautiful views of Paris. There are two areas with misters to cool off, foosball tables (aka “babyfoot” in French), pétanque/boules courts, art expositions, an open-air library, a giant chess board, free Swedish Gym, tai chi (weekend mornings 10am-noon), boxing, and running coaching sessions, and activity areas for kids.

Sprinkled throughout are different lounge chairs, picnic tables, al fresco cafés, and refreshment stands. 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).

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.

dining area
There are many eating options at Paris Plage.
One of the mister stations at Paris Plage.

Open-Air Cinema July 8-12

The second edition of Dolcevita-sur-Seine festival celebrates Italian films (Rome and Paris are sister cities), with free screenings each night from July 8 through July 12 on the Quai des Célestins. Music from 4pm, followed by film screenings (spaces limited, get there early). Note the films will be in Italian with French subtitles! There will also be Italian films and other events featured in cinemas and cultural centers around Paris, see the full schedule here: https://www.dolcevitasurseine.com/dolcevita-sur-seine

Dolcevita-sur-Seine poster

Bassin de la Villette (10am-10pm)

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, tai chi (weekends 10am-noon), and plenty of kids activities (including a free merry-go-round and trampolines for kids daily 1-7pm), although in a less picturesque scenery than you’ll find on the Seine (some areas are downright scruffy, if festive). Just like last year, there’s a comic book library (“Bédéthèque”) and first-aid classes by the Secours Populaire and lifeguarding workshops “Geste qui Sauve”.

Bassin de la Villette
Photo by Ana E Silva / Mairie de Paris

Swimming & Water Sports

There are four swimming pools right on the water (open daily 11am-9pm, although they also seem to close 30 minutes for “cleaning” at random times): two lap pools, a kiddie pool, and a 2-meter deep swimming pool. They’re free, but can only hold 300 swimmers. The pic above is one of the official photos on a sunny day. I took the photos below on a slightly cooler and overcast day a few moments after the pools just opened:

Swimming pools at bassin de la villette
Heather’s photo of the same pools.
Climbing wall and kids paddle boats at Bassin de la Villette.
Climbing wall and kids’ paddle boats at Bassin de la Villette.
Paddle boats
Larger paddle boats for adults at Paris Plage Bassin de la Villette

In the afternoons (1-7pm) you can rent paddle boats, kayaks, and paddle boards for free. In addition to paddle boats, you can also see the electric boats available for rental year-round (in the photo below) from Marin d’Eau Douce.

The bamboo misters at Bassin de la Villette
The bamboo misters at Bassin de la Villette

Unlike the Paris Plage on the Seine, this one has no grassy areas, and all of the chairs seem to be the foldable fabric and wood ones. There were also far fewer picnic tables specifically for Paris Plage, but the length of the Canal and Bassin de la Villette is pretty much always meant for picnics (happily there are water fountains and public restrooms at Paris Plage, which are lacking elsewhere along the water).

Folding chairs along the Bassin de la Villette
Folding chairs & umbrellas along the Bassin de la Villette

All day long there is a climbing wall, boules, foosball (babyfoot) and trampolines. The special activity areas are cordoned off by white picket fences. Most are closed by 7pm, except for the live dancing stage close to the MK2 cinemas at the south end of the Bassin de la Villette (see below).

Paris Plage Bassin de la Villette

Dancing Sessions

From salsa and reggaeton to hip hop and folk dancing, this summer the dance teachers of the Camino Real association will be offering free classes for anyone interested in joining the fun!

At Berges de Seine (near metro Sully-Morland), classes will be on Friday, July 14th and Saturday July 15th, and then Wednesday through Saturday from July 19th to September 2nd.

  • Wednesday 5-8pm: Reggaeton
  • Thursday 5-8pm: Charleston/Jazz Roots and Ori Tahiti
  • Friday 5-8pm: Breaking and House Dance
  • Saturday 5-8pm: Salsa

At Bassin de La Villette (near Stalingrad metro), classes will be daily through September 3rd.

  • Monday 5-8pm: Charleston/Jazz Roots
  • Tuesday 5-8pm: Ori Tahiti
  • Wednesday 5-8pm: Fitness Latino
  • Thursday 5-8pm: Reggaeton
  • Friday 6-9pm: Salsa
  • Saturday 6-9pm: Champeta (aka terapia, a Colombian folk dance)
  • Sunday 5-8pm: Bal Populaire

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 good spot!

Practical Info

Free entry. Open daily July 8th through September 3rd, 10am-10pm. Free restrooms and water fountains throughout (tissues and a reusable water bottle recommended). There are info kiosks at both Paris Plage sites and orange-shirted “Plagistes” strolling the grounds if you need directions. The official Paris Plage information website is www.paris.fr/paris-plages-2023 but they haven’t yet created an English version.

Paris Plage Shop & Souvenirs

Paris Rendez-Vous, the boutique of the Paris Tourism Office in the Hôtel de Ville (entrance across from BHV at 29 Rue de Rivoli, 4th) sells official “Paris Plage” postcards and posters, in addition to other unique souvenirs “Made in France” (and many “Made in Paris”). Open Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday from 10am-7pm (and there’s A/C and a drinking fountain!)

More on Paris Plage

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