Paris’s Grand Palais to be US drive-in cinema

Imagine the scene – you roll up in your Cadillac convertible, and slurp on a milkshake as the credits start. This is not 1950s America, but a plan to transform Paris’ famous Grand Palais into a drive-in cinema, starting on Monday.

Paris's Grand Palais to be US drive-in cinema
Photos: Rie H / Bruce Fingerhood

The Grand Palais, next to the Champs Elysées in Paris, has been home to more than a century of French refinement and haute couture.

The vast, ornate glass-covered nave has played host to Chanel fashion shows, and exhibitions by the Ecole des Beaux Arts, but a project set to start on Monday will see it transformed into the ultimate pop culture venue – an American-style drive-in cinema, complete with cheeseburgers and a rollerskating rink.

Before any French culture vultures bleat out the words Sacre Bleu! in disgust at the makeover, don't worry – it will just be a temporary arrangement as part of a summer film festival.

The Cinéma Paradiso event, organized by French film company MK2, looks set to attract thousands of spectators between Monday and 21st.

Cult American classics like Pulp Fiction, Grease and Taxi Driver, as well as a preview of Star Trek: Into Darkness, will be projected onto the big screen in an authentic 1950s drive-in atmosphere, according to the schedule of events.

Parking won’t be a problem, since the organizers are providing open-top Fiat  500s as seating, as well as an American-style diner, roller-skating rink and dance hall, to complete the authentic ambience.

However if cinema-goers need something French and tasteful to keep their bearings, they can opt for the “Moet et Chandon” package, which provides them a car seat as well as a glass of champagne.

Tickets are selling out fast. For more information click here

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Six ‘Blue Flag’ outdoor swimming spots within easy reach of Paris

Summer has very definitely arrived in France and if you are looking to swim outdoors there are some great spots within easy reach of Paris that have the official "Blue Flag" award.

Six 'Blue Flag' outdoor swimming spots within easy reach of Paris

It’s the sort of weather that brings out the desire to leave the city behind, head somewhere green where – maybe – there’s a lake to while away a lazy few hours swimming, sunbathing and recharging those batteries before returning to the hustle and bustle of the capital.

The Blue Flag 2022 label has been awarded to 536 sites in France, including 419 beaches across 197 municipalities and 117 marinas.

In order to qualify for a Blue Flag, stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained. The flag guarantees clean beaches and marinas, excellent quality bathing water, and demonstrable efforts towards sustainable tourism and environmental awareness actions.

In the beach category, the label was awarded to the Base de Loisirs de Souppes-sur-Loing, in the south of Seine-et-Marne, which has consistently been awarded Blue Flag status since 2003.

The site offers a bathing area equipped with toilets, games for children, a nautical technical site and scuba diving training. About 38,000 people visit the leisure base each year, during the summer season.

Port de plaisance de Port de l’Ilon and port de plaisance de l’Isle Adam have also been awarded Blue Flag status this year.

Here are five other outdoor swimming venues within day-trip travel of Paris.

 Ile de loisirs de Jablines-Annet, Seine-et-Marne

The lake at Jablines-Annet has two white sand beaches where swimming is supervised on the last two weekends of May and Ascension Thursday, and daily from June 1st to August 31st. Pedalos are available to hire, and water-skiing and a sailing school is open. On-land activities include mountain biking, mini-golf, archery, and tennis. 

l’Île de Loisirs de Vaires-Torcy, Seine-et-Marne

Just 30 minutes from Paris in a car, the île de Loisirs de Vaires-Torcy offers numerous activities, including swimming, rowing, catamaran, canoeing, and paddleboarding. There is, for example, a nine-hole golf course; tennis, squash, and badminton courts; pony trekking. 

Entry to the beach, between 10am and 7pm, costs €5.50 for adults, and €3.60 for children aged 3-11.  Entry to the aquapark is extra.

Île de loisirs de Cergy-Pontoise, Val d’Oise

A lake, an aquapark, rafting and waterskiing, kayak and paddleboarding, an accrobranche, archery and a whole host of outdoor activities on offer on the border of Val d’Oise and Yvelines.

Les étangs de Hollande, Yvelines

In the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse Regional Nature Park, the étangs de Hollande, are a series of artificial ponds created on the orders of Louis XIV to supply the fountains of the Palace of Versailles. Today, it is the ideal setting for relaxing and enjoying a getaway surrounded by nature. About an hour from Paris by car, there’s a beach with supervised swimming, mini golf, beach-volley, picnic areas, pedalo, canoe and boat rental. Open Wednesdays and weekends in May, daily from June 1 to September 5. Entry starts at €5.20 for adults and €3.60 for children, with activities extra.

 l’Ile de loisirs de Bois-le-Roi, Seine-et-Marne

Some 50km south of the capital, the île de loisirs de Bois-le-Roi on the fringes of the forêt de Fontainebleau has the advantage of being free to enter – and is open year round between 9am and 9pm. There’s also no charge for anyone wanting to swim, while visitors can also enjoy golf, tennis and a number of other activities, for a fee.