Hélène Rémond On ‘Paris Beaches’

A lithograph by Jean Henry Marlet “La pleine eau”, dating back to the 19th century (1821-1823). A copy is actually available on eBay right now.

Here HTBS’s Hélène Rémond gives a little report on ‘Paris Beaches’ and an exhibit at Hôtel de ville of Paris that will end very soon (so, hurry, hurry over there):

To celebrate the 10 years of the Paris Plages operation (‘Paris Beaches’), which transforms Paris in the summer when the city and the riverside thoroughfares become car-free resorts, the Hôtel de ville of Paris has organized a free exhibition which will be up and running until 17 September.

Paris Plages has allowed the French capital’s residents to establish an unusual relationship with their river and the exhibition retraces several centuries of the city’s life on the banks of the Seine.

The exhibition entitled “Paris on the Seine – From the Old Quays to Paris Plages” retraces the history of both economic and social links. During the time of Paris Plages, the Seine’s banks become pedestrian and the beaches are spread across three spots: Louvre/Pont de Sully, Port de la Gare and Bassin de la Villette which features a proper water-sports complex (with rowing boats, kayaks, pedal boats and dinghies) alongside quaint quay-side restaurants and boules courts.

In the 18th century, the river Seine was already a hot spot for water pleasures and entertainment. There were also celebrations made by the Monarch with fireworks for Royal births and weddings, and military victories.

André Basset is the author of the print entitled “VUE DES REJOUISSANCES DE LA PAIX (titre inscrit, en carcatères inversés); Vue perspective des Réjouissance faites sur L’Eau pour la publication de la Paix vis-a-vis le palais Bourbon à Paris” which dates back to about 1750-1785 – for more info about the print, please click here.

There were spectacular sporting events in the 19th century, too, which saw the development of leisure and sport. Here are a few illustrations shown at the exhibition:

Swimmer Billington at the arrival of the race, which he competed through the Seine River on June 27, 1909. He’s sitting by French swimmer Estrade. Photo: C Maurice Louis Branger/Roger-Violet.

An ad in a newspaper which presents the Traversée de Paris made by swimmers and rowers in 1931. It was organized by the committee of international regattas of Paris and the French Swimming Federation.

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