Sunday, August 21, 2011
Paris Plage: The Sequel
In August, Paris has moved. Out of town. And for a month.
When planning your Paris trip, do not, I repeat NOT, come in August. Not if you want to see the markets. Not if you want to buy a baguette at the neighborhood bakery. Not if you want to experience the bustle of Parisian life.
But do come if you want to find a parking place, or make it across town by car in half an hour flat. Or to enjoy Paris Plage.
I posted an introduction to this event on July 21, Day One of Paris Plage - Paris Beach, in French. Today is August 21st, the final day. After a cold and rainy first three weeks, the skies over Paris are now resolutely blue - in spite of a thunder-and-lightning-filled night storm that was short but far from sweet.
While adults were basically just basting and roasting themselves, children could build sand castles, watch a clown twist balloons into shapes, play paddleboard, romp on a huge adventure playground or explore Disney’s replica of its famed Enchanted Castle. Of course there were buskers: a shapely blonde who belly-danced while playing with flaming swords and two young men giving a capoiera demonstration, among many others who came and went.
And in front of City Hall, the square had been turned into a football field where children were learning how to dribble footballs and shoot goals into huge inflated nets.
Sunday, the very last day, we decided to walk around the second site, the Bassin de la Villette, where I lived for six years. Back then it was already a favorite with young bikers, couples strolling, and groups of friends picnicking. But that didn’t hold a candle to this. All along the west side and halfway back down the east sand had been carted in and chaise longues and folding beach chairs plunked down - free, first come first served. But the accent here was on activities... much more so than along the Seine. There were games for young and old alike: pétanque (French bocce ball), pingpong, babyfoot tables (fussball, in English - even though that’s German!), a train ride, and the cherry on the cake: a wave machine for kids to surf!
But it was fun while it lasted.