Summer in Paris is, no doubt, a dream; but, it’s no waterfront vacation. Or so you may think…
There may not be any soft, white sand to bury your toes in or any clear, turquoise waters to float in between sunscreen applications. Nonetheless, it’s still possible to have the perfect summery experience in the capital: taking in the sunshine, sipping a refreshing glass of rosé and indulging in seasonal dishes right along the water!
Every year, when warm weather hits the City of Light, the beautiful Seine River invites city dwellers to venture down to the water – on both Rive Gauche and Rive Droite (Right Left and Left Right) – for unique outing on une péniche.
A péniche is a barge with a narrow boat with a flat bottom, traditionally used on the Seine River to carry heavy loads from one place to another. The péniches referred to here, however, are docked and only responsible for a few things – offering up tasty food, cold drinks and a good time.
LES PÉNICHES DU MARAIS
In the heart of the Marais, just east of the Hôtel de Ville, a collection of these floating bars and restaurants on the péniches is anchored between two bridges: Pont Louis-Philippe and Pont Marie. In addition to the room on board, these uniquely fun establishments also typically offer casual seating along the quai (the dockside next to the barge).
If you hear live music in the air while crossing the bridge from Île Saint Louis, it’s likely coming from Péniche Marcounet.
From Thursday to Sunday, you’ll find dancers kicking up their feet on the quai or the barge to free live music. Sit and take in the sounds of summer on the cushioned wooden pallets or at a smaller table inside the péniche. If it rains, not to worry; the show will still go on, either underneath umbrellas or down below deck, inside the jazz club. Regardless, make time to leave your rosé on the table, and join in on the dance floor. Check out Macounet’s website to see the live music schedule.
Port des Célestins, 75004 Paris
What could be more perfect than seafood on the water in summer? Open from noon to midnight, take a seat on the terrasse (terrace) or on the deck of Les Maquereaux for a delicious selection of fruits de mer. Pair oysters and clams with a cocktail or wine, and sit back and imagine you are at the edge of the sea – it won’t be difficult!
Pont Louis-Philippe – 14 Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris
For a half-covered, half-open air péniche with classic French bites, head over to Mr. Pelican (where you can also rent out the lower level for events!). The chef here offers delectable plates made with a selection of high quality, local cuisine from various regions of France. The comfy, wicker chairs on board offer a perfect front row seat for a pause on the water to enjoy this slice of paradise in a historical neighborhood of Paris.
Port des Célestins, Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris
LES PÉNICHES DU RIVE GAUCHE
If Rive Gauche, or the “Left Bank” of the Seine, is more your style, there are plenty of options for riverside dining here, as well. The péniches on this side of the city are much larger and often have seating on the upper level for a more “rooftop” feel.
This is one for the art lover! Fluctuart is the first floating urban art center in the world. Open from noon to midnight every day in the summer, this completely transparent building at the foot of the Pont des Invalides is an open museum showcasing all the trends of urban expression. After wandering through the artwork aboard the barge on the ground level and checking out the bookshop, head to the rooftop to eat, drink and take in the city – arguably the most impressive piece of art – right before your eyes.
Pont des Invalides – 2 port du Gros Caillou, 75007 Paris
Rosa Bonheur & Flow Paris
These two barges, which are anchored right next to each other, can be found just beside Pont Alexandre III and are guaranteed to provide a hopping atmosphere with simple, classic cuisine and fun music. Rosa Bonheur is part of a group of colorful restaurants located in natural green spaces around the city (for example, in Parc Buttes Chaumont and Bois de Vincennes). Flow offers a nice atmosphere to dine on the quai during the day and a bumping DJ set on the rooftop come evening. And both péniches turn into nightclubs after midnight for those who want to continue dancing the night away…
Port des Invalides, 75007 Paris
La Balle Au Bond Café
Lastly, for a more secluded option away from the hustle and bustle of the party-inclined barges, La Balle Au Bond (BAB) Café presents a wonderful fusion menu which features a special weekend brunch inspired by French artists. This cozy péniche with a view of the Louvre will make you want to spend your whole day on the water.
Pont des Arts, 75006 Paris
While it may be a far call from the Mediterranean Sea, the Seine River will not disappoint during the hot summer months in Paris for those looking for a watery reprise. Be sure to visit any of these floating restaurants for a unique experience you won’t soon forget!