Who says you can't walk straight out of the Louvre onto the beach? You're hot and thirsty. Your feet ache. To visit Velazquez and other old masters, you've swept aside your "Vamos a la playa" urges
No matter, this capital's mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, thinks "Life's a beach!"
Delanoë's answer to "Asphalt Jungle" blues? A quirky, absolutely free open-air affair dubbed "Paris-Plage." Riding on the crest of the success of last year's test edition which attracted an estimated 2.5 million urban sunbathers, and won a UDA (French Union of Advertisers) golden Phénix award, in the "Most innovative event" category
the City of Paris is to abracadabra the banks of the Seine between quai Henri IV and the Tuileries into a new millennium "Paree-on-Sea." From July 20 to August 17, wannabe beach boys and Parisiennes in itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikinis will be staking their territory on a temporary strip of sand, complete with potted palms and Côte d'Azur-style recliners. (Hotline: 08 2000 75 75)
Let's pretend we're bronzed Brazilians thronging to Rio's beaches after work. On the oceanfront, and in the lingerie sector
Le string reigns supreme! The miniest? Lou's "P'tit lou," whose flesh-colored version is amazingly invisible. Anyhow, this season's clubbers will strike provocative poses, "negligently" allowing their G-strings to peek out of their jeans
For instance, Boléro's "Astros," with black-hologrammed star signs.
Elle magazine's "brand-name" rose-tinted specs have the "neo-Riviera" look everybody's after
And, even technology freaks are into "beach attitude." Their latest fad? "Fellowes" cases for cellphones, CDs and hand-held computers, stamped with the logo of hip skin diving firm Body Glove. As seen at... Surcouf (Viaduc des Arts, 139 av Daumesnil, 12e, tel: 01 53 33 20 00).
The very word "plage" or "beach" takes you places! This summer, Plages a quarterly magazine hand-produced "Out of France" by mainstream and fringe artists, from all over the planet fetes its 25th anniversary and 100th issue, with an exhibition at the Weiller gallery. (July 1-13, 5 rue Gît-Le-Cur, 6e, tel: 01 43 26 47 68)
La Plage Parisienne
With its Deauville-like boardwalk, chic riverside resto La Plage Parisienne has the appeal of a private beach. Perfect for an August tête-à-tête
it serves cosmo cuisine, with a Med edge. (Les Berges, Quai Hauts de Javel, 15e, tel: 01 40 59 41 00)
Since François Ozon's "Swimming Pool" movie filmed in English and co-starring Paris-based Brit screen icon Charlotte Rampling premiered at the Cannes Film Festival
pools have been in. Paris coolest? The Piscine Jean Taris. This Roman bath-like haven, overlooking the gardens of the Lycée Henri IV, dispenses underwater diving courses. (16 rue Thuin, 5e, tel: 01 43 25 54 03)
Where to spruce up for the beach? At the Ken Club, a top-of-the-range spa thats treating guests of the Crillon hotel and other affluent travelers to a couple of "summer trial offers." A 230E "day pass," including admission to the swimming pool and lunch. Plus, July-August "all-access" for 500E. Ken" is Japanese for wellbeing... (100 av du Président Kennedy, 16e, tel: 01 46 47 41 41)
If real luxury is losing track of time, in what feels like a faraway place... Then, Franco-Thai hammam/beauty institute/"modelage" (non-medical massage) center Wassana is where its at! (28 rue de St-Petersbourg, 8e, tel: 01 40 08 07 94))
Saint-Tropez is back in vogue, as is its Byblos hotel. Now home to Alain Ducasses fifth "Spoon" concept restaurant, this "palace" has released a double compilation CD. In July, another Saint-Trop hotspot, Jean Roch's VIP Room, will host one of four nationwide "Butterfly" all-nighters scheduled to toast Ballantine's whiskys new glitzy "platinum bottle.
From the beginning of July, cutting-edge beauty parlor Vénus & Mars (26-28 av Marceau, 8e, tel: 01 56 89 10 01) will be promoting Saint Tropez. Instead of sizzling on a beach towel, for real
fans of this Californian self-tanning procedure will have their bodies splashed with synthetic sunshine." Others, will "fake it" with creams and lotions from Jean d'Estrées' tony sun-protection line.
Le Touquet getaway
As Esa Europe's space agency revs up for its mission to Mars... Why not take off to Le Touquet Paris-Plage (a weekenders resort, 2hrs15mins from the Gare du Nord), for a spot of "sand yatching"? In July and August, world champ Bertrand Lambert organizes discovery sessions, introducing vacationers to this exhilarating sport practiced at three times the speed of wind. (9:30am to 7pm, tel: 03 21 05 33 51)
Where to get that head-turning bathing suit?
From the Galeries Lafayette department stores Espace maillots de bain? Or, from couture swimwear specialist Eres, just off the place de la Madeleine (2 rue Tronchet, tel: 01 47 42 28 82)? Alternatively, head for La Vallée®... A brand-new outlet concept that takes the stress out of scouting around for designer wear and home furnishings. Only five minutes away (by car or RER) from Disneys Marne-la-Vallée theme parks, this airy shopping village houses chic boutiques, stocking stylish products by 60 flagship labels. Christian Lacroix, Max Mara, Nina Ricci and Versace, to name but a few. Everything from lingerie and shoes to kids stuff is ready at hand, and the price tags are far from daunting (at least 33% below the usual figure). La Vallée® Outlet Shopping Village, open daily 7 jours sur 7 Mon to Sat 10am to 8pm (Apr-Oct) & 10am to 7pm (Nov to Mar), Sun 11am to 7pm, 3 cours de la Garonne, 77700 Serris, Marne-laVallée, RER A4, Val dEurope/Serris-Montévrain stop, tel: 01 60 42 35 00