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— urbantick

Paris Plages – the City Beach

Transformations towards opening the waterside of cities particularly in Europe are taking place for the last fifteen years. Rivers and lake side areas are being discovered as recreation areas of high value. What was formerly waste land or industrial area has very often been brownfield for some time and is redeveloped, very often turning the city functionally inside out, introducing a new front.

Particularly Rivers are passing through central areas where cities can develop a potential for focused activity and attraction. London is developing this topics, but also Rotterdam, Berlin, Basel and so on.

Paris Plages
Image taken from Wikimedia / A view down onto the Paris Plages. With sand the river front road is transformed in to a recreation zone for one month.

Paris has developed a special take on this, with a very much temporary solution. The legacy i sometimes tricky to just change and Paris runs some major road infrastructure along the Seine that they are not willing to reroute. However, temporarily it is during summer transformed into a beachside with sand and palm trees.

It goes with a extensive cultural program, including art fairs and concerts. There are all sorts of activities running like Tai-Chi and reading clubs organised by the library. Of course a game of Boules has to feature too. Actually Pétanque is played at Paris Plages.

Paris Plages
Image taken from parisplages / Plan showing one of the locations just across from the Centre pompidou in central Paris.

The project ‘Paris Plages‘ started in 2002 and has taken place every summer since. The authorities announce “The summer transforms Paris. The cityscape dons greenery and the riverside thoroughfares become car-free resorts. The Paris Plages (Paris Beaches) operation kicks off on or around 20 July and lasts four weeks.”