How I’m Spending my August Vacation – Yes, In Paris!

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How I’m Spending my August Vacation – Yes, In Paris!

Karen FawcettWhen living on a dollar income in the EU, one needs to regroup when it comes to spending money these days. But what the hell, you can bitch and moan or make the best out of a not wonderful situation.

Travel in France or back to the states has become so expensive that it’s not fun any longer. So, I’ve come up with a unique idea:

This August I’ve decided to stay home and not stray from the city. Business men and tourists might want to do some of the things I plan to do because after all, as Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross sang in 1992, “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” I’m not so sure but I’m certain I’ll gain some new perspectives on life in the City of Light.

Buy a Pariscope, published each Wednesday and available at news kiosk or anywhere papers are sold and scope out the free events and concerts  that take place in nearly every park and numerous churches. If the weather is in the high double-digits (Fahrenheit), churches are wonderful places to escape the heat while listening to some very good music at the same time.

Radio France frequently holds nearly free (and extremely moderately priced) concerts; they may be recording sessions or practice sessions for its orchestras. There are other rehearsal venues where visitors are welcome. Some may be in art galleries, at street fairs or in museums.

If you are a ballet aficionado attend some of the Summer Events that are free. Take a picnic with you to enjoy during the performances and consult the line up for the Festival Paris Quartier d’Eté.

Movie lovers gather at La Villette where you’ll be one of many enjoying free ‘under the stars’ movies. If dancing the tango is your passion, you’re not alone. Newcomers step on out between 8 and 9 pm
but let the pros take the “floor” when it’s closer to the witching hour. It goes without saying that a lot of people find new dancing partners and many romances have evolved out of a love of dancing –
even if people aren’t holding one another á la Arthur Murray.

Even though people are fast to say that Parisians flee the city like lemmings each August, it simply isn’t so. Not everyone can afford to nor does everyone want to leave the city when it’s less frantic and
polluted. Why fight the crowds on the highways, scramble for rooms with other vacationers or have overworked restaurateurs in Provence or at the beach give you ‘ pressured turn the tables service’ or meals that cost a king’s ransom because if they don’t make it now they’ll be out of business come autumn.

This August, I plan to walk the streets of Paris, rent a Vélib’ and bike from here to there and explore places I’ve never seen. These clunky bikes have changed the way people are able to navigate Paris. Keep the bike less than 30 minutes and there’s no extra charge other than the subscription fee. Park a bike in one “station” and pick up another one there later or at another one of the omni-present racks that are placed throughout the city and voilà, off you go. Walking and biking also negates having to spend money going to a gym.

If you crave beach, you don’t have to leave the Banks of the Seine. Head to the Paris Plage—tons of sand have been trucked in each summer since its inauguration in 2002. For the past five years Paris has its own three beaches complete with palm trees. Use your imagination and conjure up the Caribbean, but watch what you wear. No strings, topless or nudism allowed unless you’re prepared to fork over 38 Euros. You’ll need to close your eyes and imagine you’re at the ocean.

From the Tuileries to Pont Sully, this year’s Paris Plage will expand even further towards the 13e near the new Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir. There’s a new floating swimming pool not far from the BNF. From the 20th of July to the 20th of August, the Paris Plage will have activities for everyone including the sports minded, young children, sun worshippers and music lovers who can loll under the palm trees and listen to a concert every Friday and Saturday evening starting at 19h30 that’s sponsored by the electronics and more store Fnac.

If you have the talent, nerve and stomach, Rollerblading is one of the most thrilling ways to see Paris by night. Don’t assume the younger competitors are going to get to the finish line first. Older skaters generally are more skillful and adept at taking the turns. If you’re due for a stress test, you can probably skip it if you arrive at the finish line in one piece. If you don’t, well… Paris is full of first-rate hospitals. Please wear helmets and kneepads. Bonjour Paris cares about its readers even though the staff has been known to make hospital calls.

Another highlight during summer months is a visit to the Chateau de Versailles. Few people tire of seeing the Sound and Light Show that leaves many breathless. Tickets aren’t free but you get a lot of bang for your buck. You don’t have to live like a king to enjoy some of the perks.

Consider every outing an adventure. Some art galleries may be closed but plenty are open. Outdoor markets frequently showcase some crafts  and brocantes (flee markets) take place 12 months a year. Don’t forget the amusement park at the Tuileries. You don’t have to be a child to enjoy cotton candy or a ride on the Ferris wheel. From the top, you can see Paris on high. And it’s one dramatic view.

Do you agree that August may be the best month of the year to be in Paris? If so, I’d like to know. One of the joys of living in Paris is you don’t have to be a millionaire (in any currency) in order to have fun and never be bored.

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