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by Arthur Gillette
Many years ago I lived with an English sailing companion on the Seine. Our boat was tied up to a quay and attracted the attention of many riverside strollers who thronged by when the weather was clement.
Our mooring was apparently not entirely legal on a long-term basis, and we had to change the site from time to time to avoid river police reprimands. One day, my pal was on land hauling us, sturdy rope in hand, toward a new berth, while I was on the foredeck fending off the quay with a boathook. My eyes were on his hand signals, and I didn't notice that my boathook was just about to slip onto a quayside steel plate. Suddenly, skreek! Slip it did, and I flipped head-over-heels into the river. Yuck! It was disgustingly filthy!
No wonder, we later mused, that in something like a year as floating Seine residents we had never seen anybody take a dip in the river - where, in any event, swimming was interdit.
That has not always been the case, however. Here, for example, is a postcard of a Seine-side beach in 1903:
Our jobs took my friend and me away from Paris soon afterwards, and the boat was sold. We were thus (happily) absent when the strollers' Seine quays were converted into roaring, heavily trafficked and quite polluted motorways. Okay, no swimming was missed, but many Parisians - not to forget visitors - felt deprived of and nostalgic for Seine-side strolls and relaxation.
Time passed and an ecology-oriented municipal government was elected in 2001. An early project, brought to fruition in 2002, was the July-August conversion of at least some of those highways into a Paris Plage - a Paris Beach.
that fully two-thirds of Trip Advisor reactions to Paris Plage
the operation 'good' or 'excellent'!
Given its increasing variety, the operation has become 'Paris Plages - Paris Beaches'. And this year they will be open from July 20 until August 17, aiming to attract and please ever-growing numbers of French and foreign visitors as well as Parisians who, for one reason or another, are not leaving town for the summer
Something on the order of three million people are expected, of whom perhaps as many as a quarter will take part in organized activities. The rest will content themselves - and how! - with a pleasant, traffic-free riverside stroll.
(and France) by enjoying one or more of his Paris Through the Ages Strolls.
Visit our Marketplace page for a complete list of strolls and information about Arthur.
note: If you've wondered, as we have, where all that sand
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Kim remarried several years later, and she and her husband had a very good life living on a horse farm. But, France was always on her mind, and although she had taken French classes early on, she decided it was time to enroll in classes at the local university - she graduated cum laude three years later. With her husband's blessing she went to France for just under three months - the length of time you are permitted to stay without a visa.
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telling too much of what transpired next, sadness entered her
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