It’s a (rainy) bank holiday weekend in August, so I have decided to act like a true Parisian and escape to the South of France for a few days of sun and Provençal food.
Paris is weird in August. Everyone is away on holiday, so the streets are quiet, the metro is empty and, most noticeably, many of the shops and restaurants are shut. Although this is quite odd – not exactly the buzzing city I was expecting when I moved out – I have quite liked being able to find my way around without people walking into me and getting angry when I stop to look at Google Maps on my iPhone. The school where I’m doing my French course is very conveniently located at Opéra, an easy 20 minute walk from my apartment, and I have been exploring the different routes every morning and afternoon. And the large amount of closed restaurants simply means that I have a huge list of places to visit after the Rentrée.
In spite of this mass exodus, and the abundance of tourists (I’m not considering myself as a tourist here, even though I know I am one…), there are loads of reasons to stay in Paris during August, and many of the locals decide to stay and make the most of the various activities on offer. Paris Plage is great, but it has been raining a lot the past couple of weeks so I haven’t exactly been getting my tan on. However, there is still plenty to do au bord de la Seine. My new favourite place, which I discovered during a sunny morning run last week, is Les Berges, a temporary area set up on the Rive Gauche, just across the river from the Place de la Conchorde. The has been a welcome resurgence of Les Guinguettes, little boats with restaurants on them, and there are many other little food kiosks and bars on both sides of the river. There is even an open-air photography exhibition at Les Berges with blown up, black and white pictures of old film stars which is quite cool.
On Sunday morning, I wandered over to participate in a free Insanity exercise class which was great fun – even in the rain-, with high fives all round when we finally finished the gruelling workout. I have yet to try a free 10 minute massage, book a slot in the ‘zzz tipi’ for an hour’s nap, or attend an afternoon’s story-telling session, but they are definitely on my ever-expanding to-do list!
I would also like to visit the Canal de l’Ourq, which is apparently the ‘younger and trendier’ version of Paris Plage, go rowing on the lake in the Bois de Bologne, and maybe even attend an all-night boat party on the Conchorde Atlantic boat, which happens every Thursday this month. Apparently the theme for next week’s party is ‘Ladies’ Night’, so maybe it’s worth a try then!
There are so many other things to do in Paris in August, and I have barely scratched the surface in the past ten days. I’m quite sad that I’ve only got ten more days of freedom before I start work, when I’ll no longer be able to enjoy a late morning jog along the empty banks of the Seine, or a casual afternoon’s wander down Rue Montmartre.
I hope Paris is still the same when all the locals return and the streets start to fill up again, although I’ll practically be a Parisienne myself by then*!
*this is extremely unlikely.