Skip to main content
Start of menu
Search United Kingdom website
Close Menu
  • Share

Paris’s river artery has had a makeover, thanks to a cool new Left Bank promenade and a host of floating and riverside restaurants, bars and activities

For all its incredible historic heritage, one of the most fascinating things about Paris is watching how different districts evolve or even appear from nowhere – as I’ve observed in the twenty years that I’ve been living in Paris and writing about the city and its cultural scene, first as editor of Time Out Paris and more recently as a travel expert for the Daily Telegraph.

So I’ve been pleased to see that in the past few years the River Seine has at last come into its own. Around the Bibliothèque Nationale, a new, modern district is springing up, featuring a floating swimming pool, Piscine Joséphine Baker, and waterborne music venues like Batofar, Paris’s original ‘nightclub on a boat’. Temporary events like the summer-long man-made beach Paris Plages help too.

A new Left Bank promenade

But the real turning point came when the city at last got rid of the Left Bank riverside expressway – one of the more unfortunate urban improvement schemes of the 1970s – transforming the tarmac into Les Berges de Seine, a riverside promenade that takes you roughly from Musée d’Orsay to Pont de l’Alma, and is sprinkled with activities and diversions that have been multiplying ever since (more details). Les Berges has brought a whole new spirit to this grand and rather staid part of the Left Bank.

There are reclaimed wooden beams for sitting and watching the world go by, exercise points and running tracks, Tai Chi and boxing classes, food stalls and cafés and kids’ games and craft workshops. You can be energetic and stroll along the quay, or be delightfully inactive, gazing at the water, playing chess or even snoozing: among the ‘maritime-style’ steel containers which dot the promenade, there are some labelled ‘Zzz’, which you can rent (book here) for a siesta. I particularly like the floating water garden, planted to recreate different riverside habitats.

New restaurants and bars

While exploring I also had a glimpse of Faust restaurant, which like the club and music venue Showcase on the other side of the river is actually inside the Pont Alexandre III, Paris’s most ornate bridge. Faust inhabits a vast vaulted space with watery views between the arches, revisiting the classic Parisian brasserie. Outside, the other arrival of the season is the Rosa Bonheur sur Seine barge, sibling of trendy Rosa Bonheur in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. A laidback guinguette combining bar, café, restaurant, dance hall and music venue, it is definitely the place to be. The specially designed barge, with its rotondas at either end and pale green metalwork (an echo of the Grand Palais across the river, perhaps), gives you fabulous views of the Pont Alexandre III and Pont de la Concorde bridges.

And the best rooftop bar in Paris with a view of the Seine?

Le Perchoir Marais, the summer rooftop bar on top of BHV, opens when the department store closes in the evening. An offshoot of Le Perchoir bar-restaurant that opened on the top of a block of flats, near République, is the most happening place in town (at least when the weather is good), which means a huge queue along the street every evening. But once you make it to the top, including a walk down a corridor of department store offices, it’s great fun: hip yet relaxed, with a rooftop view of central Paris, Hôtel de Ville (city hall) just across the street, wooden tables, trees, packing crate benches with colourful cushions, and a bar where laid-back staff serve beer, cocktails and glasses of rosé. House special is the Dark’n Stormy, with rum, ginger beer, Boston bitters and lemon juice. Open until the end of October, entrance on the 37 rue de la Verrerie.


  • Share

Hotel Offers

Worldwide deals and discounts for American Express Cardmembers

ABTA Member
American Express Europe LLC (AEELLC) trading as American Express Travel, Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom is a member of ABTA (ABTA number C4330) and ATOL (ATOL number 0151). Being a member of ABTA (ABTA number C4330) means you have the benefit of ABTA’s assistance and Code of Conduct and this allows you to book with confidence. All the package and Flight-Plus holidays we sell are covered by a scheme protecting your money if the supplier goes out of business or is no longer able to provide the intended holiday. Other services such as hotels or flights on their own may not be protected and you should ask us what protection is available. American Express’s ABTA membership does not cover cruise bookings and should therefore not be relied upon when booking cruises or cruise packages. These bookings are covered by our third-party provider, ICE Cruise’s ABTA membership (ABTA number L6366). Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are also protected by the ATOL scheme, this ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: Please contact us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.
Your secure session will be closed due to inactivity. Would you like to extend your session?
Extend Session
Your login has expired. Would you like to re-login?
Continue as guest
Your American Express login has expired and you must login again to continue.