Paris Plage folds up its parasols until next year

22nd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 20 (AFP) - The French capital's riposte to the seaside - Paris-Plage, an artificial beach on the river Seine - took down its parasols and emptied its pool on Friday after four million people took advantage of the popular Parisian attraction.

PARIS, Aug 20 (AFP) - The French capital's riposte to the seaside - Paris-Plage, an artificial beach on the river Seine - took down its parasols and emptied its pool on Friday after four million people took advantage of the popular Parisian attraction.

It was the third year of existence for the beach, now firmly established as part of the summer landscape of Paris and emulated by other French and European cities, and attractions were more elaborate and diverse than ever.

Sunloungers and hammocks were strung along the three kilometres (two miles) of the beach, which took over a stretch of riverside motorway. As in previous years sand, sunshades, boardwalks and palm trees were imported.

For the more active there were petanque (or boules) competitions, trampolining, rock climbing on artificial rocks and, for the first time, a shallow swimming pool.

Beach-goers could wander along the river, drink or snack in cafes, listen to improvised and organised musical events.

City hall said that despite often less than summer like weather, 3.8 million people visited the beach during the 30 days it was open.

Attendance rose by 25 to 30 percent over last year's four-week affair, that one in the middle of a massive heat wave across much of Europe.

Parisians and tourists alike headed for the Seine, even if they could not swim in it. It was a particularly welcome break for those who could not because of work or lack of money leave the capital in the usually dead month of August.

Tourists rubbed shoulders with families and under-employed police on bikes, while rollerbladers sped past groups of picnickers. Sightseers on boats ploughing up and down the Seine exchanged greetings with sunbathers.

About 32,000 people took part in games such as sand ball (sand handball), frisbee, badminton and beach rugby. Tai-chi to relax those overtaxed muscles was on offer: so were sand sculpting, massages and a library which attracted a thousand clients.

Visitors Friday were sorry to see the EUR 2 million (USD 2.4 million) beach vanish.

"It's a real shame," a German visitor said, munching her sandwich on her sunlounger. She had planned to spend their weekend on the beach.

"They should keep it open until the end of the month," said a young man, who came with his guitar.

Friday night cleaning saw the swimming pool emptied, sand and trees removed.

And on Monday morning, cars reclaim the beach, or rather, the expressway.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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