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Posts tagged ‘Seine’

No.354: La nuit à Paris

I love Paris when the sun comes up. I love Paris in the morning as the clouds burn off. I love Paris on a drizzly afternoon. And I even love Paris in the bitter cold dusk. But there is something so dreamy and thrilling about la nuit à Paris.


night_Paris_2.jpgnight_Paris_3.jpgnight_Paris_8.jpgnight_Paris_6.jpgnight_Paris_7.jpgnight_Paris_9.jpgnight_Paris_10.jpgnight_Paris_11.jpgnight_Paris_12.jpgYes. If pressed, I suppose I would have to say la nuit à Paris will be missed most of all.



la nuit à Paris: Paris at night

No. 352: The Paris Plages

paris_plages-beaches.jpgThere is one more cool thing to love about Paris—the Paris Plages. Sunday was the last day of this annual beach party, and remarkably, the moody sun decided to shine for the two hours we were there.

Okay, so it is not quite the Côte d’Azur, but I think it is one fantastic idea to transform a 4-kilometer stretch of the Right Bank of the Seine into a free fanciful faux beach for one month of the year. We have spent a couple of great afternoons on this urban beach enjoying the sand, sun, and gorgeous setting. It seems a bit strange to be lying out on a comfy beach loungers staring up at the Pont Neuf and the Conciergerie contemplating the fate of Marie-Antoinette, but then, this is Paris.

Some pretty great designers must have been involved in developing this concept and the enthusiastic support of the city government doesn’t hurt. Personally, I love all the different types of seating options available. You can choose from blue loungers on a white sand beach to huge colorful bean bags nearly spilling into the river, to large sail-like sun beds made for two, and café chairs on a freshly laid lawn. There are no shortage of things to keep you occupied: ballroom dancing lessons, swimming pools and misters, trampolines and dirt biking, art studios and playgrounds for kids, free massages for adults, foosball and pétanque, and of course, beachside cafés. The street entertainers run the gamut from classical Chinese zither players to opera singers to in-your-face hip-hop troops. If you can’t figure out what to do, you can ask one of the extremely friendly “plagistes”. Or you can simply admire the professional sandcastle builders as they sculpt their masterpieces while you enjoy your speculoos glace.

Ice cream, sand, friends and sunshine equals a perfect day in Paris.


look what I found! (Check out my previous post: Eiffel’s Red Café Chair Tower.)



No. 236: Signs that les berges is opening soon


One of my favorite things in Paris is les berges, the new boardwalk along the Seine, just a few minutes from our apartment.


My darling ex-Mayor was responsible for closing off a few ramps and a riverside road and dreaming this pedestrian friendly Paris into existence. I love this place so much that I’m sure I can squeeze two or three more posts out of it before my time is up. But for the moment, let me just tempt those of you not yet in the know with a few signs that les berges will soon be up and running again and in full summertime swing.






les berges: the riverbanks

No. 222-223: Sundays on the Seine (and Marne) and Créteil

One of my very favorite things about living in Paris is spending Sundays on the Seine and Marne.


Every Sunday if we are both in town and the weather is even marginally nice, Superman and I jump on the Vélibs and head down to the Seine. The former mayor of Paris made it a priority to make the Seine accessible to families sharing a Sunday stroll and fitness enthusiasts alike. Since we fall into both of those categories (plus do not own a car), we are huge fans of ex-Mayor Bertrand Delanoë and his progressive policies to improve the quality of life in Paris. We are especially grateful for all he did to make it so easy to jump on the path (and closed roads) along the Seine and explore life beyond Paris.


After almost three years, we have discovered all sorts of chemins, quaint streets and hamlets, and peaceful riverside breaks. We are now very familiar with the point where the Seine and the Marne split, or merge, depending on how you look at it.

We have discovered that the farther you get from the city centre, the more easily the folk smile and dit “Bonjour”. We have come across a few places we would love to live, and admired some striking river front property.


Our latest fascination is the suburb of Créteil (12km southeast of Paris and part of Val-de-Marne). When you arrive by métro it seems like a gray, university suburb with highrises and little character, but when you arrive by bike along the Marne, it is a whole different story. For two decades, Créteil has been one of France’s “four-flower” Villes et Villages Fleuris. The city flowerbeds, particularly at this time of the year, dazzle.

There are over 70 different species of trees in the “town”, numerous fountains, and even a lake. There is some great architecture, including the Château des Mèches, and gorgeous canal and riverside homes. The residents seem pretty focused on outdoor activities. Families dig in community vegetable gardens and race miniature boats on the canals. We checked in with a kayaking club last week learning to roll. We have come across groups rock climbing and canoeing, fisher people, and of course multitudes of cyclists, runners, and strollers.


Sundays may be a day of rest, but for us it is definitely worth the two-wheeling effort to escape from the city and enjoy the Seine and Marne and a little bit of the “country life”.


chemins: paths, trails

dit “Bonjour”: say “Hello”


No. 13: Art as a Necessity

IMG_3923Last night was nuit blanche in Paris—the annual October evening where the whole city of Paris plays host to an all-night arts and cultural fête. This year, and I am kicking myself for somehow missing this seemingly impossible-to-miss spectacle, the night commencé avec four helicopters flying over Paris, each one containing one member of a string quartet, playing an avant-garde melody, joyfully broadcast into the night.

Having missed that, Superman and I did finally get our act together around 23h and joined in, strolling hand-in-hand through the warm autumn night.

Along with thousands of our closest friends, we spent the evening and early hours of the morn wondering through the streets exploring the contemporary art scene and stumbling upon all sorts of artistic expression. The white night included fantastical arts installations, live music and dance performances, films and performance art, fog sculptures, light shows, colossal playgrounds, and hands-on art workshops for children or those with le coeur d’enfant.

Musée du quai Branly, nuit blanche

Musée du quai Branly, nuit blanche

les berges, nuit blanche

les berges, nuit blanche

Museums, art galleries, cultural centers, cafés and restaurants stayed open all night, and hundreds of other events were on offer free of charge. The city center, like Cinderella’s pumpkin, was magically transformed into a sparkling gala, dedicated uniquely to art. Along the Seine curious art installations materialized out of the mist, and throngs of young people gyrated to the pulse of the night. At midnight a dazzling pyrotechnic display filled the sky.

Watching the planned parties and impromptu merrymaking overflow into the streets, I felt so incredibly lucky to be part of a place that values and celebrates art and creative expression, and feels sure that art is not just frivolous, but necessary.


commencé avec: began with

le coeur d’enfant: a heart of a child

Nuit blanche: white night, light night; an annual all-night or night-time arts festival

Passer une nuit blanche: to have a sleepless night, to pull an all nighter, stay up all night