Paris and beach, in the same sentence

July 21, 2010

It’s almost August, which means Paris is emptying out weekend by weekend and… Paris Plages (Paris beach) has begun! Wooo!

Yes, yes, I’m being sarcastic. I mean, I love the concept of Paris Plages (which I will explain in a second), but I should have known better than to get all excited about it at work. As soon as I said “woo Paris Plages starts today, we should definitely check it out during lunch”, all I got was a bunch of snickers and eye rolls from my colleagues. One of them even said “typical, the non-Parisian knows more about what goes on in Paris than we do”. Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment and go write about it on my blog.

Anyway, Paris Plages is a one month event where they shut down the traffic on a huge chunk of the road along the Seine in the very heart of Paris and transform it into a beach. Imagine deckchairs, sunbeds, sand, showers, ice cream vendors, beach volleyball, a mini pool and LOTS of kids… all in front of the Seine. These pictures will give you an idea of what it looks like:

So yeah, you get the idea. Although it’s not exactly a place where I would feel comfortable soaking up some rays in a bikini, it’s still a great place to go for Parisians to feel better about themselves that they’re not at on a real beach like all their postcard-sending friends. Or not yet anyway.

Much like in Italy, summer vacation is very, very important in France. Absolutely everyone takes some significant time off to jet off somewhere, anywhere, as long as it’s not near Paris. As natural as this may seem, I don’t think the Frenchies realise how lucky they are to be able to take so much time off, 2 weeks minimum, even in a junior position.

“Oh one week vacation is nothing”, I was told today. “You hardly get used to being on vacation and then you’re back in the office again.”

“Yes,” another girl agreed. “If I don’t have at least two consecutive weeks off I just don’t feel rested.”

Oh la la. Go tell that to your Japanese or American friends.

So yes, French people are spoiled when it comes to vacation, this is a well-known fact. But when will they ever realize the luck they have and stop whining about their lives? Everyone in the office who rolled their eyes about Paris Plages today complained it’s too crowded and hot. That very well may be, but how many cities organize these kinds of (very well-organized) month-long events just so that the citizens stuck in the office of the summer can have a breath of fresh air?

In the end, after lunch in the cafeteria, I convinced a few colleagues to take a stroll down Paris Plages, just to get a feel for it. Although there was “too much sun”, “too little sand” and “not enough potted palm trees”, I think we’re going back tomorrow. It took a foreigner to convince them to test it out.

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3 Responses to “Paris and beach, in the same sentence”

  1. Otrebla said

    It doesn’t sound new to me. In fact, the Parisien is known for being “ziemlich hochnasisch”.

  2. Giovanna said

    the same in Dusseldorf except Germans are more open to go to the Rhein beach

  3. Acacia said

    that is excellent, I want to be there right now.

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