Life’s a beach!
by Georgina Oliver

From Paris-Plage to itsy-bitsy G-strings

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)

Beach Attitude
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).

Plages Mag
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-Cœur, 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)

Cool Pool
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)

Spa Craze
Where to spruce up for the beach? At the Ken Club, a top-of-the-range spa that’s 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 it’s 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 Ducasse’s 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 whisky’s new glitzy "platinum” bottle.

Artificial Sun
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 store’s 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 Disney’s 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 kid’s 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 d’Europe/Serris-Montévrain stop, tel: 01 60 42 35 00

ELLE’s brand-name sunglasses

Boléro’s “Astros” G-string

Body Glove® sticker


Byblos Saint-Tropez compilation CD

Gérard Bignolais and Anne Moser in Plages magazine

La Vallée® Shopping Village