… this addiction to water is shared by most of my fellow Parisianswrites the Telegraph's Stephen Clarke,
even though we are at least two hours from the nearest sea (unless you own a helicopter or a Ferrari fitted with an invisibilty [sic] cloak). It’s now Paris Plages time, when the city pours sand all over stretches of the riverside and canal banks, sets out beach furniture and parasols, and pretends it is Saint Tropez for a month. People flock to the “beaches”, and in my area, near the Bassin de la Villette, locals colonise the loungers, deckchairs and picnic tables from dawn. Even the Germans don’t get a look in.
Over the past few days, the smell of suncream has been pungent. Parisians skin is renowned for its rhino-like thickness, but the sun has been doing its best to turn everyone the colour of steak tartare.
The only sad thing about all this is that despite the large expanses of water just steps away from the sand and deckchairs, it is off limits. The Seine is polluted, has a dangerous current and is frequented by barges and bateaux mouches that would turn a swimmer into the above-mentioned steak tartare. The canal basin is less populated by boats, but the water is a grey soup of urban run-off, rat urine and general stagnation.