Mark Harris
Peniches: Mixing water with wine  
The Tour D'Eiffel by the Seine  
There's a simple way to prevent Paris' scorching sunshine and fume laden air from driving you insane this summer: take to the water. The last year or so has seen an explosion of peniches (barges) moored on the Seine within sweating distance of the baking streets. Step on board, sip a cool drink, listen to some music and relax.

The largest flotilla of peniches lives in front of the Bibliotheque Nationale in the 13th arrondissement, close to Metro Quai de La Gare. La Guinguette Pirate (, a Chinese junk, specialises in Latin and world music; the Peniche Makara ( can surprise with anything from funky chansons to hip-hop; and the new-ish Kiosque Flottant ( keeps the DJs busy, but all strive to keep admission and drink prices low.

If aching feet won't carry you that far, try the peniches in the centre of town. La Calife (, at quai Montebello,just across from Notre Dame, offers food rather than music. Upstream, opposite the Louvre, the Balle au Bond ( provides nightly entertainment, from Celtic rock to theatre, but has no food as yet. Drinks are expensive on both peniches, but their locations lend them a romantic air that's hard to beat, especially at neght.

For a more energetic night out, La Declic ( has a Saturday disco that's a snip at 100F (with drink). It's moored at quai St-Bernard, near Metro Jussieu, and also offers salsa (Fri), rai (Sun) and gay (Wed) nights.

If that sounds a bit too loud, La Peniche Opera ( performs classical and contemporary opera on board, either at 200 qusi de Jemmapes on Canal St-Martin (Metro Jaures) or at riverside venues in the Ile-de-France. Tickets usually cost 150F.

All these peniches live on an uncertain Seine, contending with the weather and a mountain of French regulations. Many change mooring spots for the winter season (normally 1 Oct on), so don't be too surprised if your favourite has weighed anchor and set sail for sunnier shores.

  Return to work page