Dockside Destinations: Péniches in Paris

Dockside Destinations: Péniches in Paris
Paris, a river runs through it… and a canal system. A few lucky sailors have precious mooring spaces in Paris, either along the Seine or the Bassin de la Villette. Many barges, aka péniches, are party boats, with top-deck revelers and a thumping bassline. But some of the barges tied to the capstans on the quays are multicultural centers, dance schools, bookstores, cinemas, floating food markets and child-centric destinations. Here are a few favorites. L’Eau et les Rêves is a floating bookstore/café whose name in English means “water and dreams” –  so-called from a quote by philosopher Gaston Bachelard. Moored in the Canal de l’Ourcq, l’Eau et les Rêves has an inevitable nautical theme, replete with portholes, mermaids and old maps. This barge-bouquiniste has wooden stalls on the upper deck for borrowing or buying second-hand books. Bigger on the inside, this péniche boasts spaces for a children, theater workshops, lectures and book signings. While l’Eau et les Rêves is a treasure trove of volumes on seafaring and maritime escapades, it’s still a mainstream bookshop with new titles. This French librarie will order English language books for you. Their café offers snacks, juices, wine and cocktails. 9 Quai de l’Oise, 19th https://www.pé Fluctuart is a floating urban art center located at the foot of the Pont des Invalides. Along with temporary exhibits, Fluctuart features works by internationally renowned street and graffiti artists like Banksy, Keith Haring, Invader, VHILS, Shepard Fairey and JR. Fluctuart capsizes the idea of a traditional museum by creating an opportunity to see urban art in a Seine-side setting. This barge of 1000 m² consists of three gallery spaces connected from water to rooftop by a series of atrium-like gangways which create an intimate interface between the Seine and gallery-goers. Fluctuart is free and open from noon to midnight. The space can be toured with one of Fluctuart’s passionate guides. DJ sets in the evening are a unique way to listen to music, enjoy a cocktail and take in some incredible art and views of the Seine. They offer children’s workshops Sundays at 2 pm. The small menu at Fluctufood is a distillation of Paris fare. Books and prints specializing in urban culture are available at Fluctuart bookshop. Fluctuart is open every day in the summer and Wednesday to Sunday starting November. Pont des Invalides/Port du Gros Caillou, 7th courtesy of Fluctuart In the Bassin de la Villette is the Antipode. Antipode is a word most often used for Australia and “lands down under,” but the dictionary reveals it means “something which is the direct opposite of something else.” And that’s what the Antipode is. This imposing hulk of a barge was built in the midst of World War II and transported all manner of freight on the canals of Europe. Now it’s a laid-back, kid-friendly cultural space, appealing to the eclectic, the hipster, and those trying their best to rage against gentrification.

Lead photo credit : courtesy of L’Eau et les Rêves

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A freelance writer and amateur historian, Hazel knew she wanted to focus on the lives of French artists and femme fatales after an epiphany at the Musée d'Orsay. A life-long learner, she is a recent graduate of Art History from the University of Toronto. Now she is searching for a real-life art history mystery to solve.