On the 1st of May (or the Sunday close to it usually) Argenteuil closes a stretch of road near the Seine and they remember the pre-war (pre WWI) era with old style dress, dances and activities. Argenteuil has a fine artistic history. Impressionists like Manet, Monet, Caillebotte, Sisley, Seurat and Braque (born there) all spent time there at one point or another. FlÃ¢neurs from Paris would catch a train to Argenteuil on Sunday to be in the “countryside” and wander by the Seine.
I think I’ve been every other year – on average – that I’ve lived in Argenteuil. A lot of people play the game and dress up for the occasion. There’s usually some jazz / musette playing live, dancing, traditional street food as well as typical international fare (beer, chips and BBQ sausages). It’s a shame that the very road they close for the occasion is the road that stops most people from being able to venture down onto the banks of the Seine. You can get there, but you have to go up on the bridge, down a set of stairs, and then walk over the grass verge with cars going past at 90 km/h (56 mph). There’s only a section – as far as I can tell – of grass and trees wide enough to get you far enough from the traffic to appreciate the river.