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Town: Paris, Le Grand Bassin, Jardin du Luxembourg

Country: France

Description/directions: Famous park in the Rive Gauche area which is the university district on the south bank of the Seine. Actually it's a bit of a walk from the river. There is a Metro/RER station at Luxembourg. The RER is the suburban railway which is faster than the Metro, and conveniently the line that runs through Luxembourg also runs through the Gare du Nord, which is where the Eurostar pulls in. So you could be off the Eurostar and into the Jardin within 20 minutes or less.

Type: Ornamental lake adapted for use as boat pond. Octagonal.

Size: Medium to large.

Several Internet mentions, look at

Shoreline access: 100%, raised concrete wall.

Depth: Waders probably, didn¹t try it!

Restrictions: none that I could see, but I suspect anything too noisy would cause trouble.

Boat club: none that I know of. However there is a marvelous facility if you come at the right time (Sunday PM would be good): a man appears with a wheeled cart from which he hires out wooden model yachts, gaff-rigged with a topsail. I believe these are simple free-sailing boats, despite the mention in the website above as "remote controlled boats" - I think not! The only remote control you get is a long stick. Shots of these appear on

Open public access: Yes.

Other facilities: lots of park seats, refreshment huts, you can sit on the grass where permitted, children¹s puppet show, large numbers of Parisians to admire your boat.

Anything else to add:

Hazards: there is a fountain in the middle, designed to fill the cockpit of a hollow-hulled boat if you sail too close. Also, an annoying little shed for ducks to nest in, some way out. Any free sailing boat could get stuck up against this thing and of course your boat always heads straight for it. The pictures show my yacht clearing it by inches.

History: the baroque Palais du Luxembourg behind it was built for Marie de Medicis, wife of Henri IV, between 1615 and 1627. It now houses the French Senate so the Jardin belongs to the Senate not to the City. At dusk everyone is firmly shooed out of the park by a couple of gendarmes blowing whistles.

Boat in shots: a French Bretagne 500, about 12" long, fits easily in luggage. They come up regularly on French eBay and don't cost much.

Weather: hardly any wind, bright sunlight, long evening shadows

Listed by Andy Tribble [01.11.2005].


L'Etang de Cucuron

Cucuron, Provence, France

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Type: Although not a purpose-built boat pond this is an excellent place to sail a small to medium sized boat, only limitation being not much wind as it is surrounded by buildings.

The pond is a long rectangle surrounded by a low wall with 100% access. Only hazard at the time of visit was a curtain of fairy lights strung across the middle, easy to stay away from.

The pond is near the centre of a picturesque small town in the Luberon mountains. Reason for its existence (apart from sheer elegance) is that everyone in the area is concerned about the risk of fire, especially in the summer when it never rains. The pond is a large water storage tank for the local fire brigade who are based at one end of the square. You can see the fire engines in some photos.

Facilities: Bar L'Etang (see photo)

Apologies for not putting a boat on the pond. I reached it while touring with some friends on motorcycles. I commented that day that I often packed a boat on the off-chance, but this time I was traveling light. Will have to go back.

Listed by Andy Tribble [01.06.2006]


La Cote D'Azur, France

Wonder if this little pond is still there in the nouveaux jardins? Must visit Cannes and find out.

Postcard is undated but hats may be a clue. The men have snappy trilbies which could indicate 1930's but the children have deep sun hats which are more '20's style. There are a surprising number of 3-mast sailing ships in the harbour behind. So perhaps late '20s early '30's.

Listed by Andy Tribble [01.06.2006]

Many thanks Andy for another excellent contribution to the site. I'm sure this pond is still there. I've trawled through my holiday snaps and can't find it. It's east of the port - just where Google goes in to low definition! Anyone got any further information? Thanks, Mark.

Anything to add or amend?