Where else besides Paris can you find a city government putting on such an elaborate summer time event for its citizens? No really. I'm asking a serious questions because I want to go visit.
Every summer from mid July until mid August (18th in 2014), Paris shuts down the road by the river and transforms the banks of the Seine into a boardwalk of sorts. Along the boardwalk are beach umbrellas and chairs that are available first come first serve.
There are games like bocce and foozball, sprinklers and misters for the kids, cafes, dance lessons, street performers, bike rentals and more! And that is just on the boardwalk.
Around Hôtel de Ville they have 5 beach volleyball courts and a full length basketball court!
I am looking forward to next year's events and will try to make it to the volleyball courts on a regular basis.
What we're really reviewing here are the sandy "beaches" that France's socialist mayor has been installing for several summers now, to even things out between those people who can afford to jet off to a beach community for the summer and those who can't afford to leave town. Paris is hardly coastal property, so tons of sand are hauled in around mid-July and retained until mid-August and those who are still in town milk the fun out of every cubic centimeter.
Really, I've never seen so many "beach goers" enjoying so little space in my life. Parties, picnics, booze, pot, sex, romance, music, games, fun. From bridge to bridge for several bridges running, the walls of the Seine are lined with little sandy pockets where kids and adults, young and old, rejoice in their little slice of beach.
The whole thing is free, officially open until around 11:30 p.m., and incredibly well-executed. Some "blocks" are sand only, others have food and drink, others have chairs, a playground, a petanque court (and petanque sets too, just ask). It was impossible to resist dipping my toe into the sandy "beach" of the Seine, strolling along the "coast", or kicking back in one of the chairs with a baguette and a drink.
I've heard some other cities emulate this ritual but they've messed it up by charging admission. Being a huge "all beaches should be free of charge always" person I was immensely pleased to see just how right Paris got this one.
French line dancing, misters, tons of ice cream, champagne, sand, loungers, Pétanque, foosball, galettes, crepes, and the Seine what else could a girl ask for?
The kids are playing in the sand, moms are laid out getting the sun, men are playing petanque, and for a quick second your forget we're in the heart of a city.
I subtract one star because the maps are backwards. They show the river on the opposite side that youre walking, so its a bit precarious to figure out. Silly map makers!
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