Paris Hotels Articles

May 28, 2010

A Beach Holiday in The French Capital, Paris? Strange, But True…

Anyone who knows their French geography can tell you that the idea of a beach in Paris is nothing short of crazy. Crazy perhaps, but not impossible. In fact, for the sixth year in a row during 20th July and 19th August, the idea actually becomes a reality, as Paris celebrates the summer festival ‘Paris Plages’.

In 2002, the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe gave his support to a project designed to bring the seaside a little closer to Parisians that couldn’t afford a beach side getaway during the holiday month of August. He said “Paris Plages is a gesture of solidarity with all those, and there are hundreds of thousands of them in Paris and its surroundings, who cannot afford to go on holiday.’ The idea was a hit with locals and this year marks the sixth successive year the festival has taken place.

The idea was meant to bring a festive summer touch to the city, and offer a location for family fun, relaxation and summer leisure at little or no cost to the public. Last year, more then 3 million visitors took advantage of the facilities on offer.

To cope with the expected increase on that figure this year, an extra location was organised in addition to the two from previous years. The three locations have been set up at various points around the city, connected by shuttle buses, each with a different theme or focus.

The banks of the river Sein have been presented as a tropical oasis where visitors and locals can soak up the sun side by side. Temporary sun decks have been installed and 2,400 tonnes of sand was brought in to fill the purpose built beach ‘trays’ that stretch for 3kms along the river’s south banks, decorated with tropical plants and palm trees, also brought in especially for the occasion.

Colourful beach umbrellas and lounge chairs are available for free rental and free cold mineral water is available at kiosks set up along the river. Those with a bit more to their budget can enjoy wine, beer or tropical cocktails at one of the many river side cafes.

Drinking fountains and mist makers have also been installed to provide a place to cool off, but the highlight of this location is a 28 meter floating swimming pool and jacuzzi facility, suspended over the Sein River.

Leisure activities are on offer ranging from dance lessons to rock climbing and a traditional french ball game ‘petanque’, something a little similar to the Italian favorite, Bocce. Street entertainment like clowns, buskers and acrobats are on show throughout the day, and when the sun goes down, the area hosts free music concerts as part of the celebrations.

As well as the river, a beach area in front of the National Library has been set up with free books and newspapers you can borrow, as well as free WIFI access. La Vilette Canal Basin is where those into summer sports can rent kayaks, row boats and water paddle cars, under the free supervision of instructors, until 9pm at night.

If six years of success is anything to go by, it’s fair to say that this quirky event will continue to please the crowds in years to come. It seems that now more than ever, Paris really has everything to offer summer holiday makers.

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