Paris-by-the-Beach

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Welcome to Paris-by-the-Beach! Three kilometers
(1.8 miles) of riverfront highway in the heart of Paris have been
transformed into a resort strand, complete with beach volleyball, palm
trees and ice cream stands. Creating a beach in the center of Paris has
required the transport of 18,000 cubic meters (24,000 cubic yards) of
sand, 80 palm trees, 150 beach umbrellas, 22 changing rooms, 150
decorative banners, 4 snack bars, and various other items, all
supported by a $1.5 million budget that is being paid for by the city
of Paris. Let the summer fun begin!

July
21, 2002 marked the opening of Paris-Plage, as it is officially
called, and it attracted hundreds of sunbathers who bared their bodies
on stretches of grass or sand along the river. Thousands more strolled
along the riverfront highway that runs parallel to the new beaches. But
not everybody was on foot; rollerbladers, bicyclists and fathers and
mothers pushing baby strollers mixed in with the crowd. Several
bridges, including the Pont des Arts, Pont Neuf and the Pont au Change
were lined with spectators who chose to survey the beach scene from
above rather than descend to the crowded riverfront below. The day was
sunny and warm –this boded well for the popularity of the ersatz beach
that has captured the imagination of Parisians.

Large
fluorescent yellow signs are positioned at intervals along the quays.
These provide practical information about the activities planned over
the four-week period during which the beach will be open, including
concerts, art exhibits, dance performances and sporting events. Even
street art is being encouraged: on opening day we saw artists using
spray paint to create a graffiti mural stretching a hundred meters
along the bank of the river.

Here is a brief overview of the activities:

Music: rhythm and blues, techno, classical, Armenian, accordion, fanfare.

Sports: rock climbing, golf, rollerblading, pétanque (a type of bowling played on the sand), beach volley, fishing.

Various other events: clowns, juggling, dance and, of course, sunbathing.

Several
thousand people had visited Paris Plage by the time that an Armenian
band played lively music on Monday evening, July 29th, to a crowd of
enthusiastic spectators. Farther along the quay, pétanque players were
concentrating on their games on the sandy stretch set aside for them.
Across the Seine, people gathered on the riverbank to listen to the
music, while the familiar bateaux mouches (riverboats) plied by. It was
a peaceful scene, and the setting sun presented a picture postcard
photo opportunity for the scores of Parisians and visitors promenading
on the sidewalks and quays.

The
fun ends on August 18, when the city rolls up the beach and reopens the
riverfront highway to commuters returning from vacation. In the
meantime, visitors to Paris this summer will enjoy this unique
opportunity to stroll along the transformed riverbank.

More complete information may be obtained from the city of Paris web site: http://www.paris-france.org/parisweb/fr/vivre/ETEAPARIS02/parisplage.htm


Roy T. Reeves is co-owner of 
Discover Paris! – Personalized Itineraries for Independent Travelers.

© Roy T. Reeves

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