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Summer in the City of Light

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August in Paris is a double-edged sword. The Parisians leave Paris for the beaches and other vacation spots, taking with them their puppy dogs that poop on the sidewalks, their cars which congest the streets and they close their offices or business establishments until their return.

On one edge of the blade, many establishments are closed — your favorite restaurants, butchers, boutiques. Your friends may be gone and it can get awfully lonely. Often it feels like a ‘ghost town,’ particularly in typically “bourgeois” neighborhoods where the residents can afford to leave town for the entire month. On the other edge, it can be very pleasant. There is less traffic and noise, less people on the streets, less wait at the bakeries(those that are still open) and less poop in which to step.

An advantage for tourists is that it’s ‘low season,’ so the rates in the hotels and vacation apartments are at their lowest costs. The weather in Paris isn’t hot (particularly this year) and while it may rain a bit once in a while, if you’re averse to heat and humidity, Paris may be a good vacation choice for you.

Many people prefer Paris in August to any other time of year for all these reasons, plus, the city has made a concerted effort to provide entertainment for the masses who stay or vacation this month. One brilliant idea was Paris Plage.

I haven’t had the pleasure of the Plage since my return to Paris, but it awaits me. This is the 11th edition — hard to believe as I remember so well going the first day it opened in 2002 wearing a bathing suit and dousing up with sun tan lotion on the banks of the Seine. This year it opened on July 20th — when the riverside thoroughfares closed to traffic and were transformed into a beach-like atmosphere complete with “sandy beaches, deck chairs, ubiquitous ice cream sellers, and concerts for French and foreign guests.” Visitors to Paris Plage at the Bassin de la Villette location can “borrow books free of charge, play beach volley, take an aqua-gym class in a mini pool, or kayak around the lake.” The Seine’s banks become pedestrian and the beaches are spread across three spots: Louvre/Pont de Sully, Port de la Gare and Bassin de la Villette.

From the Louvre to Pont de Sully spans three kilometers through the center of Paris, and “features a swimming pool, concert stage, and open-air attractions (rollerblading, tai-chi, wall climbing, boules etc.).” Refreshment areas, play areas and deck chairs are available for relaxing by the river.

The Bassin de la Villette is the latest addition to Paris Plage, having opened in 2007 around Bassin de la Villette (19th). It runs from Rotonde de Ledoux (nearest the Jaurès Métro station) to the former Magasins Généraux (in rue de Crimée) and “features a  water-sports complex (with rowing boats, kayaks, pedal boats and dinghies) alongside quaint quay-side restaurants and boules courts.”

The Plages last four weeks and are open non-stop from 8 a.m. to midnight. It’s worth a visit and I hope to make mine this coming weekend.

See Paris Plage for more information.

Another annual event to which I look forward in August is “Claire de la Lune” sponsored by the Forum des Images. This is the 12th year that Parisians can enjoy classic films on inflatable screens under the stars in the most appropriate locations, given the themes of the films.

For example, Thursday evening, on the grassy triangles of the historical Place des Vosges, “Diabolique” adapted by Henri-Georges Clouzot of a novel by Boileau-Narcejac will be featured on the big silver screen. And Saturday at the Trocadero, “The Perfect Furlough” by Blake Edwards with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh is sure to be the perfect comedy with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

There are nine this season beginning tomorrow night:

01  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. La Belle Équipe by Julien Duvivier Soirée d’ouverture
02  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. Les Diaboliques by Henri-Georges Clouzot
03  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. Le Cerf-volant du bout du monde by Roger Pigaut et Wang Kia-yi
04  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. Vacances à Paris (The Perfect Furlough) by Blake Edwards
05  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. César et Rosalie by Claude Sautet
09  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. Coeurs  by Alain Resnais
10  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. Les Apprentis by Pierre Salvadori
11  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. Ridicule by Patrice Leconte
12  August 2012 – 9:30 p.m. Les Demoiselles by Rochefort de Jacques Demy

The films begin at sundown — 9:30 p.m. Some seats are set up, but plan on lounging on the grass. The best plan is to gather your friends, have a picnic and then relax to see the film. Don’t forget to take a sweater as it often cools down in the evening, plus, since alcohol is not permitted in the parks, put your wine in soda bottles!

For more information, visit Cinema-au-clair-de-lune.

“Cinéma en Plein Air 2012” is much the same — sponsored by the Parc de la Villette, this year titled “Métamorphoses” having opened July 25th and running through August 26th. Between Wednesday and Sunday films are aired free on the lawns at La Villette beginning at sundown, with lounge chairs rentable (7€, with a 20€ deposit). There are 25 great films from which to choose, so there is no shortage of entertainment all summer long if you happen to be one of those Parisians or tourists making Paris your home for August.

Fore a complete listing, visit Cinema-en-plein-air-2012.

A la prochaine…

adrian paris plageAdrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. This is a great time to make a last minute visit to Paris — with rents on apartments as low as thew can go! Visit Parler Paris Apartments for all our most luxurious guest apartments! And if instead you want to spend a few days in New York City, our comfy, well-located West Village Studio with a perfect view of the Empire State Building, doorman and elevator, is available August 1 through 30 for a minimum of 5 nights. To book your stay, visit West Village Studio

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