walks along the seine

paris plageThe banks of the River Seine in Paris might be a UNESCO World Heritage site, but that historical marker hasn’t stopped the city from indulging in a little creative adaptation. This summer the city’s ongoing initiative to reclaim the river comes into its own. Les Berges, literally The Banks, is part of Mayor Bertrand Delanoë’s greater plan to reduce car traffic and increase “soft” methods of transportation. (Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sadik-Kahn, take note.) Transit options like the Velib bicycle share program and the Autolib electric car sharing form one pillar of the plan. Pedestrianization of the banks of the Seine and of Place de la République are another. Cultural programming and spot infrastructure aim to bring people back to the river, while activating sites with new functions: the Georges Pompidou highway, on the right bank, has been transformed into an urban boulevard in an attempt to share the public space between motorists and pedestrians; the Left bank quays, between the Royal Bridge and the Alma Bridge, have been closed to traffic and turned into an 11-acre promenade. What makes the plan unique, aside from the macro strategy involved, is a requirement for flexibility: temporary structures must be capable of being moved, extended if popular, taken down quickly if ineffective. This applies even to large-scale proposals like The Emmarchement, a 600-seat amphitheater which links the Musee D’Orsay to the river and serves as the starting point for an immersive riverside walk. (Flexibility is also useful for environmental reasons. Paris is overdue for its “100-year flood,” which last crippled Paris in 1910.) Some portions of Les Berges will become part of the programming for this year’s Paris Plage, the popular annual beach that takes over the banks of the Seine between July and August. (Originally criticized as an excess of public expenditure, the Plage has become a beloved tradition, expanding to three different areas along the river.) Another part of Les Berges includes a series of floating barges called Archipel, which opened next to the Sewer Museum in late June. The five barges are planned in accordance with the biodiversity map of Paris. The semi-aquatic vegetation between the barges cleans the banks of the Seine while the landscaping offers different opportunities for the public to experience the space. Each island barge – archipelago, get it? – has a different theme with plants native to Paris. According to project’s website: For the lazy, the chairs of the island mists are waiting for you; for the wild, find the open aviary bird island; for the romantic, walk in the tall grass prairie of the island; for those seeking the country, sit in the shade of an apple orchard on the island. And for anyone interested in the future of what an urban experience could entail, walk along the banks of La Seine.

Share

bouncing across the seine

There are many ways to cross the River Seine, but the inflatable trampoline bridge envisioned by Paris-based agency AZC will surely go down as one of the most enjoyable. Formed by three giant inflatable life-preserver modules—30 meters in diameter—strung together by cord and stretched with trampoline mesh, the bridge is set to be strategically located in relation to the Eiffel Tower, to give users both a release from gravity and a very unique view of the city. If it ever gets built this fanciful bridge will definitely take the pedestrian out of the daily commute. After all, qui se ressemble s’assemble!

Share

le metro mouche

Thinking ahead to next year’s soldes, visitors by then might be able to navigate their way around the City of Light by cruising along the Seine. With the introduction of the cool, new Voguéo water shuttle, transportation publique is expanding to a more fluvial level. Expected to fully operational in the French capital by the summer of 2013, the catamarans, a part of the Paris metro system, will run every 15 to 20 minutes between the city center and the suburbs of Paris. Thirty different stops are planned along the banks of the Seine, from Suresnes, west of the Bois du Boulogne to Vitry-sur-Seine in the south. Each stop will be equipped with a schedule and route maps, including metro transfers. Better still, there’s the added benefit of multiple stops coinciding with key cultural (and shopping) attractions. Fares can be built into the price of a multi-day transit pass or expect to shell out about 7 euro for a one-way ticket.  If that sounds pricey consider the cost of a taxi stuck in traffic as you sail past all the tourists, waving from the prow of your very own bateau.

Share

the joy of juillet

The weeks surrounding the Fête de la Federation are a perfect time to revisit Paris – that’s July 14 in case you didn’t catch today’s tenuous travel connection. Perfect not only because of the summer weather that makes strolling the Seine so sublime – especially with an ice cream from Berthillon – but also ideal thanks to the summer sales, or soldes. Lest you think these are any old sales, I’m going to set you straight: the national soldes are a government controlled period of five weeks each summer and winter when shops are allowed to offer exceptional discounts. And by exceptional I mean deals up to 70% off on all the good stuff. Think Barney’s Warehouse but with better food – and the Bastille.

Share

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.