Early fall has always been my favorite season in Paris. Residents return for “La Rentrée,” tanned and smiling (at least for now) after les grandes vacances and itching for some quality terrace time in their still seasonal summer looks.
Kids go back to school (hence the smiling parents), the weather is often lovely and the energy in the air is palpable. There’s always a lot happening – from restaurant openings to new exhibitions and film releases.
One of my favorite discoveries this rentrée is “Les Berges,” the newly pedestrianized waterfront that spans the Left Bank from the Pont de l’Alma to the Musee d’Orsay.
The city spent 35 million euros and nearly three years converting a two kilometer stretch of former traffic lanes into a permanent playground offering entertainment for all ages, from public game tables to cool cafes and even teepees that can be rented by the hour. Here are our favorite ways to enjoy it.
Apero or burger? Depending on your mood, sink into the loungers at Flow for some music and people watching; sip an apero with the chic crowd at Faust or enjoy a burger, family style, at En Attendant Rosa.
Each offers an unbeatable seat adjacent to the Seine and a lively scene of hip Parisians. Or grab a bite from one of the food trucks: Mozza & Co, a mobile Italian trattoria or Omnivore for a fresh, seasonal offering (and reasonable price tag).
Game on. The banks are lined with fun and games: Public tables for chess or backgammon (game pieces are available for hire on-site); mazes and hopscotch tempt young and old; a repurposed stone wall has become a kids’ climbing area. Teepees can be hired for birthday parties or small groups seeking a memorable picnic spot. There is also a skate ramp where local kids show their stuff. And of course, the banks are open to cyclists and les trotinettes.
Urban oasis. In typical Paris fashion, ample space has been provided for relaxation. The banks feature several “floating gardens,” – inviting, interconnected green spaces on the Seine that showcase rich and gorgeous plant life. If you’re lucky (and quick), you can grab wooden lounger built for two (mais, bien sûr) and while away what remains of the summer sunshine.
When I was there last – to sip a glass of rosé and watch the sun set over the Seine – the banks were not yet overrun by tourists. But go soon. Like most Paris “it” attractions, word is out and the secret isn’t likely to last long.
- To learn more about Les Berges and to see what’s currently going on, visit their website
- And be sure to check out Paris.fr for a little tour of the new and improved banks of the Seine
- Nuit Blanche is taking place again in Paris during October 5th. Don’t miss planning your night if you’re in Paris!