Paris plages: Urban beaches open – with pop-up Covid-19 testing centres

Paris' popular urban beaches have opened for the summer, with extra health precautions in place and pop-up coronavirus testing centres.

Paris plages: Urban beaches open - with pop-up Covid-19 testing centres
The urban beaches are back, with extra health measures. Photo: AFP

Due to health fears over Covid-19 and social distancing rules there had been some doubt whether the beaches on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette would go ahead this year.

But Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo decided to go ahead, saying: “Many Parisians will not got on holiday this year.

The swimming pools at the Bassin de la Villette are back. Photo: AFP

“Many visitors might come to Paris, especially visitors from other French regions rather than abroad, and we really want to welcome them, and keep this festive spirit up in Paris.”


The beaches are now open and will stay open until August 30th.

However, there are some differences and plenty of health precautions in place.

The beaches – which transform riverside and canal bank areas into mini seasides complete with sand, deck chairs, ice cream stands, pétanque and swimming areas – open later than usual on July 18th.

The canal basin of the Bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement once again sees the addition of three swimming pools, while the canalside area has beach areas with deck chairs, changing facilities and food and drink stalls.

New this year is a 'float-in' cinema – an open-air cinema screen that people can view from the electric or paddle boats that are available on the canal basin (or watch the movie from the canal banks).

It will be open every day from 1pm to 8pm.

Open air movies at the Bassin de la Villette. Photo: AFP

Hidalgo said: “On the Bassin de la Villette, I wanted to give a positive answer to all restaurateurs who asked us to return.”

On the Seine riverbanks the beaches are returning, but the usual schedule of entertainments has been scaled back. The beach opened at the weekend with a concern performed from boats on the river.

Both sites will be used for the pop-up Covid-19 testing centres that are gradually being expanded around the capital over the summer.

The testing centres are situated at the villages santés (health villages) at the Bassin de la Villette and between the Pont de Sully and the Pont Neuf. They are open from 2pm to 6pm and the tests are free.

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French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With France in the middle of a new wave of Covid-19, the country's health minister has urged the public to once again wear face masks on public transport and in crowded spaces.

French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With cases on the rise again, French Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon said she is “[asking] the French to put masks back on in transport” in an interview with RTL on Monday, 

For the time being, however, she stressed it was just advice, rather than an obligation, and masks have in fact been recommended on public transport since the legal requirement to wear them was lifted in May. 

However with France reporting over 50,000 daily cases of Covid-19 the government is clearly concerned by the current wave of the pandemic.

Bourguignon said that “we must protect ourselves and protect others,” adding that wearing a mask is “a civic gesture.”

She urged people to don their masks as soon as they see a crowded train or station.

READ MORE: Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

In addition to public transport, Bourguignon is also asking the French to once again mask-up in “all crowded, enclosed areas.”

Currently, masks are only required in hospitals, health centres and places that have vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. They are recommended in crowded spaces where it is impossible to practice social distancing.