Artificial beach brings relief to sweltering Parisians

21st July 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 20, 2006 (AFP) - Parisians won relief from the sweltering heat here Thursday, as an artificial beach built along the River Seine was declared officially open for the next four weeks.


PARIS, July 20, 2006 (AFP) - Parisians won relief from the sweltering heat here Thursday, as an artificial beach built along the River Seine was declared officially open for the next four weeks.

The 2.5 kilometre (two mile) sandy beach along the river's right bank, dotted with palm trees, deckchairs and umbrellas, has become a regular summer feature of Paris city life since its inauguration in 2002.

This year though the scheme has been extended to the upcoming left bank district of Bercy-Tolbiac which now also sports a kilometre long beach between a new year-round floating swimming pool and a pedestrian walkway over the Seine.

This year the Paris Plages (Paris beach), as it is known, has taken Tahiti as its theme, with visitors invited to take part in dance classes, shows and workshops in traditional Polynesian huts erected among a lush tropical jungle.

The month-long event, which is completely free, is expected to attract some four million visitors after the 3.8 million who flocked to it last year.

"Paris Plages is a gesture of solidarity with all those, and there are hundreds of thousands of them in Paris and its surroundings, who cannot afford to go on holiday," said the city's mayor Bertrand Delanoe, during Thursday's inauguration.

This year some 2,500 tons of sand have been trucked to the quayside, along with 68 palms stretching some eight metres (26 feet) high. The whole project cost some EUR 2.2 million (2.7 million dollars) and took some 1,500 workers to set up.

The idea has proved so successful with city-dwellers that it has also been copied in other French cities such as Dijon and Lille, as well as other capitals like Berlin and Tokyo.

Visitors to the Paris plage can also take part in some 20 sports such as boules, volleyball, and Frisbee throwing, while a giant sandpit has been set up for children as well as a pirate's ship and a trampoline.

Although no swimming is allowed in the Seine, water fountains and jets have been set up along the beach, and a bathing spot has been opened at the Quai des Celestins.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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