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Thursday, July 21, 2011

...the Paris Plage arrives

No, not plague...we are not being damned with locus or anything!  

The Paris Plage is a free summer event that transforms several spots in Paris into full-fledged beaches.   Ten times more sand than in previous years will be trucked in and deposited on the banks of the Seine. It will be possible to build sand castles with the amount of sand they are bringing in.  Disneyland Paris has commissioned sand sculptors and will recreate the castle of Sleeping Beauty out of sand.  Since it is not possible (or desirable) to swim in the Seine, they also set up a pool and offer water aerobics and other classes as well as time to just swim.

Another location, The La Villette Basin, in the 19th district, is also hosting Paris Plages and its events.
This location will have more water features.   On a large, navigable lake, people will be able to take part in different nautical activities, with small boats, canoes, kayaks, sailing and crazy pedal boats like floating spheres (the kind you get in and roll around~think human hamster ball), dragon boats or surfing! This year, you can go surfing at La Villette!  A 15-metre long, 6-metre wide wave simulator will be located on the Quai de la Loire.  Kids will be able to try surfing on a funny little mini-surfboard shaped like a manta ray, the Splizer, developed by Tribord who is hosting the wave pool.  Gotta get Max and Sam out there for that!  There will be river shuttle boats that will take you from event to event.

I have read that the activities fill up fast, so the best thing to do is go in the morning and sign up for a slot and then do other things while you wait.  There are also going to be free concerts and street performers there, as well as my favorite way to pass time, people watching!  Now if the weather will just cooperate. Don't get me wrong, I am loving not being in N.C. right now with the heat and humidity, but in order to swim or surf, it would be nice if it could get above 70 degrees.  That's right, you heard me those of you sweltering away in N.C.  It has not been above 70 degrees this week!  It has also been a little rainy, but that is supposed to end.  The forecast only calls for highs in the mid-70's (highest being 76 degrees) next week.  But as long as it's sunny, the kids will brave having blue lips from the cold to swim!

For Bastille Day, we started a day early and went to a Lorraine's, a coworker of Patrick's, for the 

Sapeurs-Pompiers (Fireman's) Ball.  You may find yourself asking about the relationship between fireman and the  most important holiday. The answer is that firemen host the largest dance parties to celebrate Bastille Day in all of the fire stations in Paris July 13 and 14 .  There is a fire station close to Lorraine's apartment so we all met there and had some munchies and then walked over to the fire station.  The kids were great, considering it is now about 10 p.m. but they were troopers.  As we got closer, you could hear and feel the bass from the speakers.  This is a free event, but the firefighters have a big barrel or bucket and ask for a donation as you come in.  Once in, it is like a huge outdoor nightclub.  People everywhere, dancing and watching the stage show.  When we walk in there were two guts on stilts dressed up like devils.  Now, walking on stilts is impressive enough, but these guys were also in springs and would bounce up and down like pogo sticks ON STILTS!


Couldn't get a good picture as they were
constantly moving!
There was a feeling of an outdoor concert with a huge stage set above the crowd.  There was DJ at this event and a band that played either with the DJ's tracks or in between.  They played a lot of older (to us Americans away) tunes.  The kids were loving it because they knew most of the songs and were singing along.  Samantha was dancing with Patrick and then got pulled into the crowd of the other women we were with for a good old dance circle!  We left shortly after midnight and things were still going strong!  The crowd was a mix of all ages from kids right up to seniors shaking their "groove things"!  There was a fair number of decked out ladies and I can figure out why.....Paris Pompiers are known to be some of the best looking in the world.  However, I had my doubts as to their success as there was a lot of Village People and Gloria Gaynor tunes being played!

For Bastille Day, we went to Bercy Village.  Bercy Village is the urban-renewal project in the 12th arrondissement, next to Parc de Bercy and the Seine, which consists largely of small wine warehouses from the late 19th Century that have been saved from destruction by conversion into shops and restaurants.   We wandered around and then had an early dinner at the Hippopotamus (a kid friendly chain that actually has good food).  To end the day, we went a saw Harry Potter.  We had to go to the 3D showing because the other English language time was sold out.  It was fine in 3D (nothing jumps out at you) and I was glad they didn't muck it up with effects just because it was shown in 3D.  I did find myself looking at the French subtitles frequently as they were a bit distracting on the bottom of the screen, but it was kinda fun too to see if I could follow along!

On a side note, we did go shopping and stopped for lunch at KFC!  It was great.  It's kind of funny the simple/stupid things you miss when living in a foreign country.  But we were all giddy with excitement at the self-service soda machine with free refills and an ice dispenser!  The French rarely serve beverages with ice and if they do, it's usually only a cube or two and there are NO free refills on anything but water.  On the way out I filled my cup with ice cubes and a dash of soda and was a happy, happy girl.  

These signs in the KFC made me smile.  

Free attitude?
Well I wasn't going to pay for one!

"Soda, ice, here it is at pleasure"
see, it's so rare they made a sign celebrating it!
Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and I will be able to get the kids down to the Paris Plage and get some pictures of a beach in the middle of the city.  Until then, enjoy a BIG cup of crushed ice for me...