Every year since 2002, a section of the pedestrian bank along the river Seine, in the center of Paris, is transformed into a beach, in a popular summer event called Paris Plages, which means “Paris Beach” in French. Thousands of tons of sand are imported along with full size palm trees, beach chairs and chaise-lounges to create full-fledged beaches, each with a distinct theme.
Paris Plages is the brainchild of Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who devised the scheme to provide a seaside-like atmosphere to those unfortunate Parisians who are stuck in the city during the summer holidays. Initially there was only one beach. Then a second beach opened in 2006. The next year, a third location was added along the picturesque canal known as the "Bassin de la Villette", in northeastern Paris. The most popular and crowded beach is located on the right bank of the Seine, and stretched for 3 kilometers in 2015.
Millions of people hit the beaches either to sunbath or to cool off in the shade. Kids splash around in fountains and mini pools, and enjoy a variety of sports and games including water activities like kayaks, pedalboats, sailboats, and canoes. Boardwalk-style cafes and snack bars pop-up all along the beach. At night there are parties, dancing and concerts.
The concept has now become a worldwide phenomenon inspiring similar events in cities around Europe.
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