Despite the persistent rain and unseasonably cold weather, Paris is optimistically constructing an artificial beach along the north bank of the River Seine.
Every summer, the French down their tools and head for the beach.
And each year for the past decade, Paris has built its own sandy shore for those left behind in the sweltering capital.
This summer, the city’s beach – “Paris Plages” - is taking shape along one kilometre of the north bank of the Seine. Additional Paris Plage activities, including kayaking and paddleboats, will be on offer at the Bassin de la Villette waterway in the north of the city.
With a few days to go before the July 21 opening, work on Paris Plages is coming along quickly – albeit under slate-grey skies and drizzly rain (the best weather for building sandcastles, as any Briton will confirm).
But in a spirit of sunny optimism, the city is thinking big. This year they are using 6,000 tones of sand – ten times more than in previous years – to create the illusion of a beach on a stretch of dual carriageway between the Tuilleries gardens by the Louvre to the mayor’s office a kilometre to the east.
The sand has been lugged up the Seine in a 180-metre convoy of barges all the way from Bernieres on France’s Channel coast.
Activities for youngsters
“We wanted to build a real beach this year,” said project designer Jean-Cristophe Choblet. “Somewhere everyone can come to find some sand to sit on.
“But especially for the children – and there are many children who stay in Paris over the summer, we have designed Paris Plages around activities for youngsters,” he said.
On offer are sports, cultural activities, swimming and paddleboats, petanque (boules), bars and ice cream stands – and many of these activities are free.
At the Bassin de la Villette, there will even be a wave machine to make things more fun.
Over the coming days the beach will be complimented by some 1,460 items of beach furniture, including 200 recliners, 280 parasols and scores of potted palm trees.
This year, city authorities are expecting some five million Parisians and visitors to join the fun.
All that’s needed now is a break in the weather.
Sand - all 6,000 tonnes of it - was towed up the Seine in barges from the channel coast. (Photo: Marc Daou)
Organisers are putting ten times more sand on the riverside highway that in previous years. (Photo: Marc Daou)
Workers rake the sand into place. (Photo: Marc Daou)
The sunny image belays the dreadful weather in the runup to the opening of Paris Plages on July 21. (Photo: Marc Daou)
Beach huts standing by for the beach to arrive. (Photo: Marc Daou)
An army of journalists inspects the preparations. (Photo: Marc Daou)
Date created : 2011-07-19