Since I’m kicking up my feet in Marseille for the week, I’ve asked my friend and fellow writer Sara Lieberman to share some of the newest outdoor hangouts in Paris where you can mix and mingle with locals, enjoy the ultra late sunsets (as I write this, the sun is fading at 10:15pm), and take in summer in the city. Amusez-vous bien!
As a New Yorker born in August, it’s in my genes to like me some summah-summah-summah-time—especially since I’m what New Yorkers refer to as “bridge and tunnel.” (I was born in Long Island where people sometimes pronounce it lawng eye-lund and get to Manhattan via a bridge or a tunnel. Voila.) This means that as a kid, I spent those glorious months of June, July and August catching crabs on the dock in my backyard, running out to stop the ice cream man for a Good Humor bar (Strawberry Shortcake!) and bringing bagel sandwiches to the beach.
But once I became a “real New Yorker” (aka ditched the Midtown tunnel for those of the subway) summers became all about outdoor movie screenings, Shakespeare in the park, street food festivals, yoga on the pier and more. But if I wanted it—if I needed it—the ‘burbs and their beachy vibes were only a 42-minute train ride away.
That is, until three years ago when I traded the Big Apple for the City of Light whose own banlieue offer more bois than beach. In fact, sand is brought to us via Paris Plages! Lack of legit dunes aside, there’s much to love about l’été in Paris. Venues like Rosa Bonheur and Paname Brewing Company have helped sun worshippers booze in style for years, while Parc de la Villette sets up cinema en plein air and parks around the 20 arrondissements are filled with yogis getting their (free) downward dog on. But each season, there are some newcomers and it becomes a mad dash to check out all the new terraces or riverside scenes before everyone leaves for les vacances. (I’m talking to you, Park Rives des Seine, with your imported palm trees and cushiony lounge chairs!) While I myself will be headed across the Atlantic for those bridges and tunnels, I’ll be summering in Paris at each of these new haunts until then.
Before it officially opened in May, friends were calling this all-day restaurant near Pont Neuf the “secret summer spot.” Well, the secret’s out now! The team behind Mint Magazine and a former chef from Aux Deux Amis are adding a dose of bobo to riverside dining and imbibing on Rive Droite. During the day, the kitchen’s open for continuous service with whopper of a lunch formule including the likes of bonite with Swiss chard and raw carrots in a Parmesan purée for only €19. At night, the scene becomes more rambunctious and seats are hard to come by. But it’s all about shared plates so grab a fork and join the party.
16 Quai du Louvre, 75001
Métro: Pont Neuf (Line 7)
Summer House at The Mona Bismarck American Center
Who is this Mona Bismarck and why is she suddenly getting us all over to the 16th arrondissement? The stunning American socialite and former muse to the likes of Cole Porter and Salvador Dali was devoted to art and culture and lived in an opulent 19th century private mansion which thrives today as the Mona Bismarck American Center. The center’s mission is to offer “intercultural and transatlantic artistic exchanges” via projects like Summer House, this season’s rotating pop-up featuring weekly events such as garden movie screenings, live bands and food and drinks from Anglophile hotspots like The Beast (BBQ!), Treize (biscuits!) and Cantine California (tacos!) Plus, entry is free. (Get there early, though. Lines are inevitable).
34 Avenue de New York, 75116
Métro: Alma Marceau (Line 9)
Exciting things happen on train tracks (Stand By Me, anyone?!), which is why I love what the folks behind Ground Control do each season: They find an area of the city where there are unused train tracks and repurpose them as a setting for hanging out with a drink and a snack in hand. This year, they’ve taken up residence near Gare de Lyon and enlisted the folks at PNY, The Asado Club, and Ten Belles, among others, to provide hungry and thirsty gourmands with the likes of tasty burgers and fresh cold brews. They’re open all day until midnight and on Sunday until 10p.m. On weekends, it’s obviously harder to secure one of the few deck chairs or mismatched old school desks (used as tables), but there’s plenty of standing room amongst the herb gardens, foosball tables or even inside the train cars, which are being used as kitchens for the food purveyors.
81, rue du Charolais 75012
Métro: Gare de Lyon (Lines 1, 14)
This new riverside venue just behind Gare de Lyon is being touted as a place for BBQ, but not BBQ slathered in sauce or doused in grits. Rather, they mean meats and fish grilled simply in herbs and spices over charcoal. More than the protein-heavy menu, though (with accompaniments of cole slaw), the place is like stepping into an enchanted fairytale, complete with twinkle lights and lanterns. And the property is giant, too! In addition to the restaurant area (more akin to a backyard deck in decor), there are couches along the river bank, plus more tables for eating, cocktail-ing and even dancing on a floating barge. Come for the food, the drinks or just the fun scene, which is especially happening during sunset.
69 Port de la Rapée, 75012
Métro: Gare de Lyon (Lines 1, 14) or Gare d’Austerlitz (Lines (5, 10)
Located in the giant courtyard behind AccorHotels Arena, Le Papa Cabane is the quintessential summer-in-the-city locale as it looks as if someone picked up an entire beach club—complete with giant deck, patio furniture and wooden pergolas—and dropped it outside someone’s office building. Open only on Thursday evenings from 6p.m., the vibe is more happy hour than all-night-rave or gastronomic feast. But with a DJ spinning ambient tunes until 11p.m. things are bound to get heated after one too many spritzes or games of pétanques. Herb boxes are sprinkled around the 10,000-square foot space and there’s a rotating list of food trucks serving the likes of onion rings, burgers, sushi, tacos and more.
rue Paul Belmondo, 75012
Métro: Bercy (Lines 6, 14)
With its prime location at the foot of the Bassin de la Villette, the terrace of the Grand Marché Stalingrad (formerly La Rotonde) has long been a convivial meeting point for summer socializing. But this year’s addition of Zarma, a kebab pop-up from chef (and former fashion journalist) Nicolas Derrstoff, has really elevated its status as a place to wine and dine—super-duper casual style. This is eat-with-your-hands food, after all. (And amongst colorfully painted picnic benches to boot!) For only €7, choose from chicken, beef or haloumi and wash it down with fries and a Casablanca beer while watching the sunset. Better yet, reserve a boat over at Marin d’eau Douce and take your sandwiches to eat while floating up and down the bassin.
6-8, Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad, 75019
Métro: Stalingrad (Lines 2, 5, 7)