On the Beach In Paris

painting: laulie, 1985
'Beach' painting by Laulié©1998 - see below for details.

But First, One Last Picnic

Paris:- Friday, 19. June 1998:- Being a licenced optimist, before the weather got like it is today - close to 30 degrees and clear - I decided this would 'beach day' in Paris even if I didn't see any.

From what follows you will notice that I am confused. Although intending 'beaches,' I still have picnics on my mind. In addition, there are no beaches as such in Paris. People here do say, 'Paris Plage,' as if the words make the difference, but deep down - no pun! - there are no beaches. There are some pools and a list of them is below.

Some years ago I used to do some odd jobs for a couple of fellows at Yves Saint-Laurent and their offices were located on the Ile de la Grande Jatte. This is a secret Paris hide-out; an island in the Seine, just downstream from the pont de Neuilly, between Neuilly and La Défence.

Upscale offices of various sorts are at the southern end of the island and the northern end is more residential. When I used to go there, I couldn't help noticing the river-side cafés and restaurants; all nice and handy for expense-account office lunches and long afternoon strategy sessions.

Today I take a bus from La Défense and this puts me at the northern tip of the Jatte. This is a public park, suitable for picnics and you can get right down to the river banks. Elsewhere in Paris, this would be called 'plage' or beach, but it is really only river bank.

I think this part of the island is in Levallois, and the park's main attraction is a bee farm. Some sunbathers are right beside it, but as soon as I see what it is I quickly explore further, away from it. I don'tphoto: fountain ile de la jatte know anything about the habits of bees; they might think it is the end of winter and may be looking for prey like bears.

At the south end beyond the tennis courts, a small garden, with a locked-up 'Temple de l'Amour' at the end of it.

The park is a fair size before it gives way to a residential section. The first thing I see here is a river-side restaurant with 'valet'-parking. There are at least three guys running cars off the street into a walled-off building site, and there is an offer to wash and clean cars while their owners have lunch. Picnics for 'les riches.'

This kind of prepares me for a very upscale single-family stand-alone housing development, in the area between the road and the river, on the island's east side. These are 'designer' houses, not punched out of a cookie-cutter, and they have interesting if irrational turrets and other tweedledum-features.

The main thing is these are new houses, not replacing old ones, so this choice property has just come on the market for the first time. For anybody interested, I see a sign saying 'from 27,000 francs a square metre' and the multi-storey structures look as if the have about 300 square metres apiece.

After an abandoned factory in the centre, there is an complex of self-owned apartments of a somewhat fancy class. Along here, another restaurant manages to fit itself discreetly between them and the river. The pont de Courbevoie cuts the island in two and along it there are some ordinary shops and cafés and modest hotels and roaring traffic rushing across the island from Neuilly to Courbevoie and back.

The south end beyond has less elaborate apartments and some big office buildings, and a few more cafés between the road and the river. If you work here and your pay is ordinary, the cafés around the pont de Courbevoie will take care of you.

The southern tip starts off with a municipal sports complex belonging to Neuilly - 'keep out' - and it is followed by a tennis club - 'members only!' - but the club has a simple restaurant with reasonable prices, and its own footbridge across the the Neuilly mainland.

Along the east side, it is possible to pass the tennis courts and after a long walk there is a little park with a bassin with a sprinkle of a fountain. If you get this far, you are entitled to rest here and even have a picnic. At the very tip of the island, facing the pont de Neuilly, there is a 'Temple de l'Amour' which Louis-Philippe ordered built, and the Neuilly council orderedphoto: resto ile de la jatte closed to the public. If you are riding the métro to La Défense you can see it as the train crosses the bridge.

One of the terraced restaurants, snuggled up to the river bank.

Instead of my long walk, you can come out of the métro at pont de Neuilly - lots of fountains, little shade - walk towards the bridge and take the boulevard du Général Leclerc, until you find the footbridge over to the tennis club, which is also in the direction of the Stade Montclar.

The other sight around here are the houseboats. With these there is some rule that no two can be alike, and all their builders are supposed to be somewhat eccentric. Some of them look pleasant enough, but others are downright ugly. This east channel of the river seems to be sort of a side-branch here, and the houseboats are somewhat hidden, visible only from the island.

That was Jatte. You can picnic there, see bees, see a 'temple of love' and see guys working hard to park diner's cars and build designer houses. It might not be your 'beer,' but it is quiet compared to the pont de Neuilly area or La Défense.

Real Swimming, Really in Paris

The following pools have a separate children's pool with limited depth.

Piscine Roger-Le-Gall, 34. boulevard Carnot, Paris 12. Métro: Porte de Vincennes. - Open roof in summer - info Tel.: 01 44 73 81 12.

Piscine Jean-Taris, 16. rue Thoin, Paris 5. Métro: Cardinal Lemoine. Two pools. Open in summer from from 7:00 to 19:00, on Mondays from 14:00 to 19:00, Fridays from 7:00 to 20:00 and Sundays from 8:00 to 17:30. Info Tel.: 01 43 25 54 03.

Piscine Butte aux Cailles, 5. place Paul Verlaine, Paris 13. - Open roof in summer - Métro: place d'Italie. Info. Tel.: 01 45 89 60 05.

Aquaboulevard, 4. rue Louis Armand. Paris 15. Métro: Balard. This is a full-tilt aqua park, and charges accordingly. Info. Tel.: 01 40 60 15 15.

Piscine Georges-Vallerey, 148. avenue Gambetta, Paris 20. Métro: Porte des Lilas. - Open roof in summer - Info. Tel.: 01 40 31 15 20.

Other Pools

In all there are 34 pools within Paris, but very few of them are in the open air.

Piscine d'Auteuil, Porte de Passy, 1. route des Lacs-à-Passy, allée des Lacs in the Bois de Boulogne. Paris 16. Right at the north end of the racetrack. Two pools and an outside sundeck. Openphoto: somewhere a pool in summer from from 7:00 to 19:00, on Mondays from 14:00 to 19:00 and Sundays from 8:00 to 17:30. Info. Tel.: 01 42 24 07 59.

A real pool; not really in Paris. Sorry.

Piscine Les Amiraux, 6. rue Hermann-LaChapelle, Paris 18. Métro: Simplon. Open in summer from from 7:00 to 19:00, on Mondays from 14:00 to 19:00 and Sundays from 8:00 to 17:30. Worth seeing for the building's architecture. Info Tel.: 01 42 76 78 25.

Just outside Paris, the following parks have pools:

Piscine Parc d'Antony, RER line 'B' stop at Croix-de-Berny, or RATO bus number 197, from the Porte d'Orléans. Open-air pool. Info. Tel.: 01 46 60 75 20.

Piscine Marville in the Parc de la Courneuve, with three interior pools and one exterior. Métro: line 13, stop at Saint-Denis- Basilique, or RATP bus number 150 from Porte de la Villette. Info. Tel.: 01 48 27 06 28.

The Parc de Choisy le Roi has 30 hectares of lake, but does not explicitly say it has a pool. However, every other sort of water sport is on offer, including surf-boarding. Take a surburban SNCF train from the Gare de Lyon to Villeneuve-Prairie. Info. Tel.: 01 48 53 85 77.

Outside of Paris, In the Ile-de-France:

While an undercover municipal pool in downtown Paris is not a luxury by any means, only the vast spaces available outside of the city have the room for 11 super parks, designed for multiple leisure activities.

Some of these have man-made lakes with man-made waves, but also have facilities for practically any sport you may want to practise. For further information, email for information to the Espace de Tourisme for the Ile-de-France. It is located in the Carrousel du Louvre, 99. rue Rivoli, Paris 1. Info. Tel.: 01 44 50 19 98 and fax.: 01 44 50 19 99.

This structure of this 'report' is a bit strange, starting with a possible picnic spot following by an uncomplete list of swimming pools in Paris and ending up with practically nothing about all the actvities available in the Paris region. I blame it on too much information - every scrap of it useful to somebody, somewhere! - but, me, I don't have the resources to repeat it all here.

The painting by Laulié that opens this feature was a lucky find and Mr. Laulié was kind enough to give his permission to use it here. The Galerie Barbizon features a lot of Laulié's paintings and he does a lot of beach scenes. The painting above was done in 1985 and was one of the first sold by the, then new, Galerie Barbizon. The gallery moved just over a month ago and is now at 18. rue Saint-Guillaume, Paris 7. A show of new works by Laulié is currently on display until 4. July. Madame Tiger has the details and you can call or fax her at 01 45 44 59 84.

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