July 22, 2004

How Cool Is This? Paris Turns 2-Mile Highway Into Summer Beach

"Put on by Paris City Hall for one month and with most of its two-million-euro (2.4-million-dollar) cost paid for by corporate sponsorship, the idea is to transform what is usually a busy two-lane riverside motorway into a sort of pedestrian-only French Riviera during the traditionally quiet vacation period," AFP reports.

The "Paris Plage," running right through the city center, features "an artificial 'beach' packed with sand, palm trees, lounge chairs and free family activities" along the Seine.

Within hours of opening, the man-made beach "was alive with people walking, cycling, playing on trampolines, cooling off under fine-spray sprinklers, and kicking back in the chairs and hammocks," AFP says. New addition this year: a swimming pool.

Bad for business, shutting down a highway for people's enjoyment on foot? The "plage" attracted 3 million visitors last year and is the city's most popular summer attraction.

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