Paris, no doubt about that, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its charms have inspired poets, photographers and painters, musicians and lovers. Visitors come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of Parisian life. Reflecting the city’s attraction, rents are sky-high. Yet during the heat and humidity of summer, when tourist masses overrun the city, every Parisian who can afford to leaves the city for the countryside or the coast. Which means many have to stay within its confines.
In 2002, the office of the mayor of Paris decided to provide a relieve for this part of the populace. Since then, every July and August a 3.5 km stretch of the Voie George Pompidou, a road on the northern bank (Rive Droite) of the Seine that is heavily frquented at other times of the year, is blocked and temporarily converted to a beach. This means moving more than 5,000 tons of sand, hundreds of big umbrellas and palm trees, building playgrounds, dancefloors and bars.
The result is called ‘Paris Plages’ (Paris beaches) and provides a welcome refuge from the heat, humidity and tourist masses that have a firm hold on the city. The Paris Plages offer a sandy beach, music, dance, games for children and a romantic atmosphere for lovers. While cities around the world have come up with similar concepts, none of them can beat the atmosphere of a warm evening on that stretch of road that is borrowed from traffic for a few weeks in the sweltering heat of summer.