Summertime in Paris has its downsides, namely sardine-tin rides through the steaming bowels of the metro, and nights of inescapable heat when you’d give anything to switch your 19th-century Haussmann apartment for an air-conditioned condo. Paris-Plages on the Seine and the swimmable Bassin de la Villette offer some respite in July and August, but for a real escape head to one of these 10 lakeside activity centers.
Facilities: Lake with a beach and water slides open on sunny spring weekends and from June to August; kayaking and canoeing; mini-golf; pony rides; white water rafting; pedalos; fishing; forest assault course; sailing; tennis; simulated wave surfing; zorbing; barbecue pits; play areas; water skiing; and bungee sports.
Getting there: Take the RER A north from Paris or the regional L train from Saint-Lazare to Cergy-Préfecture and then the 48 bus to the stop ‘Base de Loisirs’. Take the regional H train from Gare du Nord to Pontoise and then the 45 or 48 bus.
Facilities: Lake swimming on sunny spring weekends and in July and August; equestrian center; 15 tennis courts; nine-hole golf course; basketball and beach volleyball courts; football pitches; skate park; climbing wall; archery; canoeing; picnic areas; children’s playgrounds; fishing; and rock climbing and mountain biking in the neighboring Forest of Fontainebleau.
Getting there: The base is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Paris. Take an overground train from Gare de Lyon in the direction of Sens or Montereau. Get off at ‘Bois-le-Roi’ (35 minutes) and follow signs for Base de Loisirs/UCPA (25 minutes).
Base de loisirs de Bois le Roi │© Speculos / Wikimedia Commons
Facilities: Lake-shaped pool with water slide open from June to August; outdoor climbing and 20-meter (65-foot) indoor wall; treetop adventure trails; 12-meter (40-foot) sliding simulator; catapult; pony rides; inflatable children’s park; disc golf; 80-kilometer (50-mile) mountain biking and hiking trails; outdoor laser tag; and archery.
Getting there: The base is located 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) south of Paris. Take the RER D from Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, or Gare de Lyon. Get off at ‘Gare de Malesherbes’ and take the seasonal minibus (10 minutes), or follow signs for Base de Loisirs (35 minutes).
Facilities: Huge wave pool in July and August; pétanque; ping-pong; inflatable children’s park and play areas; treetop adventure trails; cycling; skate park; pedalos; canoeing; fishing; pony club; hiking trails; mini-golf; archery; surfing; and ice skating.
Getting there: The base is located 55 kilometers (34 miles) south of Paris. Take the RER C in the direction of Saint-Martin d’Étampes. Get off at ‘Étampes’ (55 minutes) and then walk through the town for 15 minutes.
Opening: Monday to Sunday, 8AM to 8PM. Free admission. More info here.
Facilities: Lake with a 7000-square-meter (0.7-hectare) fine sand beach, and 10,000 square meters (one hectare) of lawns for sunbathing; nine-hole golf course; tennis, squash, and badminton courts; rowing, catamaran, canoeing, and dragon canoes; pony trekking; and 3500 square meters (3770 square feet) of nature for walking and running.
Getting there: The base is located 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) east of Paris. Take the regional P train from Gare de l’Est in the direction Meaux (18 minutes). Get off at ‘Vaires-Torcy’ and take the 421 bus in the direction Torcy RER. Get off at the stop ‘Les Cantines’ (6 minutes) and follow signs for Île de Loisirs Vaires-Torcy (20 minutes).
Opening: Monday to Friday, 10AM to 10PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 9Am to 8PM. More info here.
Facilities: 1800-square-meter (0.18-hectare) wave pool with slides in July and August; beach sports; playgrounds; mini-golf; pony rides; treetop assault course; hiking; cycling; canoeing and kayaking; skate park; and children’s amusement park.
Getting there: The base is located 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of Paris. Take the RER C to Gare de Juvisy. Take the ‘Seine’ exit and follow signs for ‘Base Régionale de Loisirs’ (7 minutes). Take the RER D to Gare de Juvisy or Gare de Vigneux, which is 15 minutes from the base on foot.
Facilities: Large freshwater lake with two swimming zones; pedalos, mountain biking; mini-golf; archery; tennis; ping-pong; disc golf; zip water skiing; and horse riding.
Getting there: Take the regional P train from Gare de l’Est in the direction of Meaux (23 minutes). Get off at ‘Lagny-Thorigny’ and then take the 15 bus to the stop ‘Rigaudin’ in the off-season, and ‘Île de Loisirs’ in the summer. Take the RER A to Chessy / Marne-la-Vallée and then the 24 bus to ‘Base de Loisirs.’
Opening: Monday to Sunday, 8AM to 7PM during the off-season, and 10AM to 6:30PM during the summer. Entry is €7 in the high season. More info here.
Facilities: Several large ponds on the banks of the Seine; canoeing, kayaking, and pedalos; horse riding; cycling; tennis; children’s playgrounds; forest walks; fishing.
Getting there: The base is 35 kilometers (21.7 miles) west of Paris. Take the regional J train from Saint-Lazare. Get off at ‘Verneuil – Vernouillet’ (28 minutes) and follow the signs for Île de Loisirs Verneuil-sur-Seine (35 minutes).
Facilities: Large lake; playground; walking routes; barbecue pits and picnic areas; horse riding; teaching farm; golf course and mini-golf; karting; Segway tours; beach sports; and sailing, canoeing, and kayaking.
Getting there: The base is 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) southwest of Paris. Take the RER C to Gare de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines or Gare de Trappes (50 minutes) and then take the 463 or 10 bus to ‘Île de Loisirs – Golf/ Centre équestre.’
Opening: Every day in March and April from 7:30AM to 9PM and otherwise from 7:30AM to 10PM. Free admission. More info here.
Facilities: Large, open-air wave pool in July and August; sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and canoeing; playgrounds; cycling; walking routes; assault courses; fishing; and mountain biking.
Getting there: The base is 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) southeast of Paris. Take the RER C in the direction of Créteil (10 minutes). Get off at ‘Créteil Université’ and then take the TVM bus in the direction of Marché de Rungis, or walk for five minutes.