48 Hours In...

Waterside Paris

Summer on the Seine is about to begin, as 2,000 tons of sand bring the beach to the French capital. And with lively canals and watering holes, now is the time to dip into the city, says Alessia Horwich

Click here for 48 Hours In... Waterside Paris map

WHY GO NOW?

The Fête de la Bastille, on 14 July, triggers the summer festivities in the capital. Outdoor events include free film screenings, and jazz and art festivals. And for a month from 21 July the busy roads along the Right Bank of the Seine are closed to traffic and covered in 2,000 tons of sand, deckchairs and semi-naked citizens for "Paris Plage". Whether you play volleyball, join in a dance class or just sit back and watch, it's a great time to enjoy the sights and sounds of waterside Paris.

TOUCH DOWN

Eurostar trains (08705 186 186; www.eurostar.com) from London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet and Ashford arrive at the Gare du Nord (1) . Flights from most UK airports arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle. The cheap, fast link into town is on the RER (suburban railway; www.ratp .info), line B. An €8.20 (£6.80) ticket takes you to the Gare du Nord (1), Châtelet (2) and St-Michel (3) stations, the last two being on the right (north) and left (south) banks respectively. A few flights arrive at Orly. Take the Orlybus to Denfert-Rochereau in the 14th arrondissement, which is on RER line B and two Métro lines. A single is €6.10 (£5.10).

GET YOUR BEARINGS

The principal waterway in Paris is, of course, the Seine, curling its way through the centre of the city. Its source is close to Dijon, and it flows into the Channel at Le Havre. In the Région Parisienne it meets the Marne river, then cuts through the capital – where it is also the main artery for a 130km canal network developed by Napoleon in the 19th century.

The Canal St-Martin is 4.5km long, and starts at the Bassin de l'Arsenal (4), the stream that formerly fed the moat of the Bastille, then runs north-east into the Bassin de la Villette. Here it merges with two others: the Canal de l'Ourcq, a 110km canal that runs north-west of the capital to Port-aux-Perches in the Aisne department; and the Canal St-Denis, which runs from the suburb of St-Denis to the Bassin de la Villette (5). At 7km long, this is the only canal that still allows industrial boats through its locks.

CHECK IN

The Bateau Pytheas Vivas (6) (00 33 1 42 68 05 85; www.bed-breakfast-paris.eu, online booking only) is a guest houseboat that sits at the Port des Champs-Elysées in the 8th arrondissement. It offers basic accommodation plus spectacular river views, from €150 (£125) for two people, including breakfast.

The Hôtel du Quai Voltaire (7) (00 33 1 42 61 50 91; www. quaivoltaire.fr) is a former abbey in a prime riverside location overlooking the Left Bank bouquinistes (second-hand-book stalls). Doubles from €125 (£104), room only.

Woodstock-sur-Seine (8) qualifies because of its name, rather than its location – this cheerful budget hostel at 48 rue Rodier (00 33 1 48 78 87 76; www.woodstock.fr) is a couple of kilometres from the river at the foot of Montmartre. A dorm bed in a shared room costs from €19 (£16), a private room from €22 (£18), including breakfast and free Wi-Fi.

TAKE A RIDE

Climb aboard a canal boat for a cruise along the Canal St- Martin (00 33 1 42 39 15 00; www.canauxrama.fr). Starting from the Bassin de l'Arsenal (4), the boat passes under the hollow base of the July Column, the site of the former secret entrance into the Bastille that now contains the remains of victims of the two revolutions. Above ground, you pass the 400-year-old St-Louis Hospital, and the former site of the gruesome Montfaucon gallows, where up to 60 prisoners could be hanged simultaneously. The cruise ends at the Bassin de la Villette (5), facing the Rotonde de la Villette, one of the only remaining revolutionary buildings. For the best views, get a seat upfront. The two-and-a-half-hour cruises cost €15 (£12.50).

WINDOW SHOPPING

Antoine et Lili Village (9), at 95 Quai de Valmy (00 33 1 40 37 41 55; www.antoineetlili.com), on the edge of the Canal St-Martin, with its pink, yellow and green façades, is a treasure trove of brightly coloured kitsch home items and chic clothing.

TAKE A VIEW

The lock known as the Ecluse des Récollets (10) is the backdrop for several scenes in the film Amélie. Stand on the curved iron bridge facing southwards for a beautiful view of the canal, its bridges, and the trees that frame it.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

Two minutes from the Ecluse des Récollets (10) is the bistro Hôtel du Nord (00 33 1 40 40 78 78; www.hoteldunord.org), at 102 Quai de Jemmapes. The hotel's façade and surrounding area were entirely recreated in a studio for the classic 1938 Marcel Carné film of the same name. Although the hotel no longer exists, the restaurant has been modelled on the fictional interior featured in the film. Try asparagus salad with carrot and passion-fruit vinaigrette, €7.50 (£6.25), or grilled sea bass with stir-fried vegetables, €18 (£15). The café opens daily 9.30am-1.30pm, the restaurant noon-3pm and 8pm-midnight.

TAKE A HIKE

Discover the river life of central Paris. Start at the Pont Alexandre III (11) and descend the steps to stroll east along the quais. These riverside walkways take you past rows of houseboats piled high with bicycles, plants and garden furniture. Continue past Place de la Concorde, the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre. Cross the river at the Pont des Arts (12) and descend again to the quais on the Left Bank, where you can walk at the riverside, right down to Notre Dame, passing by the Palais de Justice and underneath the Pont Neuf (13), the oldest bridge in Paris.

AN APERITIF

Sip a mojito (€9/£7.50) or a glass of Bordeaux (€6/£5) on the deck of the bar-barge O fil de l'ô (14) (00 33 1 43 54 19 51; www.ofil2lo.com). She is moored at the Quai de la Tournelle, opposite the Ile de la Cité overlooking the back of Notre Dame, and opens 10am-2am daily between April and September.

DINING WITH THE LOCALS

On the Quai de Bourbon, at the end of the tiny Passerelle St-Louis, the Brasserie de l'Ile St Louis (15) (55 Quai de Bourbon; 00 33 1 43 54 02 59) looks out over the Seine and Notre Dame. The kitchen has been churning out hearty Alsatian food for over a century. Find a place on the packed terrace and try the choucroute garnie €17.50 (£14.60). It opens noon to midnight, but is closed on Wednesdays, Thursday lunchtimes and throughout August.

SUNDAY MORNING: GO TO CHURCH

Paris was the location for the first American Church (16) (00 33 1 45 56 09 50; www.acparis.org) on foreign soil. Building began in 1814, but the present site, on the Left Bank between Pont des Invalides and Pont de l'Alma, dates from 1857. Its brick arches were completed in 1931. The church has a beautiful courtyard and cloister to stroll around. Sunday services take place at 9am, 11am and 1.30pm, with the church open to visitors 3-7.30pm. On other days, it opens 9am-noon and 1-10.30pm.

A WALK IN THE PARK

The Lac Daumesnil is situated in the Bois de Vincennes, east of Paris at Métro stop Porte Dorée. Created in the 19th century, this artificial lake has two islands, the Ile de Bercy and Ile de Reuilly, accessible by two little footbridges. On the banks of the Ile de Reuilly sits a rotunda with Doric columns, on top of a false cave through which a waterfall tumbles. The scene, framed with weeping willows, was designed to mimic the style of the French Romantic painter Hubert Robert, and is idyllic. You can rent a boat (€10.50/£8.75 per hour) and paddle across the lake, or just enjoy strolling around it.

OUT TO BRUNCH

The Chalet des Iles de Daumesnil (00 33 1 43 07 00 10; www.lechaletdesiles.com) is a Swiss chalet that was originally bought for the Exposition Universelle in 1867 and installed on the Ile de Reuilly. Now it is a chic restaurant with manicured lawns and big, comfy deckchairs. Try the beef carpaccio, €11.60 (£9.70) or salmon tartare with coriander and ginger, €9.40 (£7.80). The chalet is open everyday between 9am and midnight.

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

Back in Paris, the Musée du Quai Branly (17) (00 33 1 56 61 71 72; www.quaibranly.fr) sits on the Left Bank, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Designed by Jean Nouvel, it's a brightly coloured cubic creation surrounded with wild gardens. It boasts theatrical, dance and interactive exhibitions on art from around the world. The museum opens 11am-7pm daily except Monday, with late opening to 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A one-day pass costs €13 (£10.80).

ICING ON THE CAKE

For the last word in riverside relaxation, hit the Paris Plages (www.paris.fr). At the city's three mini rivieras you can stroll in the sand, go kayaking or have a dip in an open-air swimming pool. For the best river views, grab an ice cream and pull up a deck-chair on the beach on the Right Bank, between the Pont des Arts (12) and the Pont de Sully (18).

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'