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Paris turns itself into a beach

River Seine
A woman sunbathes on the bank of the Seine river, Paris  

PARIS, France -- Parisians flocked to the River Seine with their sunhats and deckchairs as part of a beach experiment to rid the French capital of traffic.

Fake grass and temporary sand piles have been dumped along the river at a cost to the city of 1.5 million euros, $1.51 million, for a month-long summer treat for residents and tourists.

Lines of scantily-clad bodies were seen soaking up the sun under palm trees while children made sandcastles near the Louvre museum on the north bank of the River Seine on Sunday.

At night the area is turned over to jazz concerts and outdoor cafes.

The 'Paris Beach' Project bans cars from the road that snakes alongside the river in favour of tourists and Parisians seeking fun in the sun.

Grass has been imported as well as 180 cubic metres of fine sand for sunloungers and deckchairs to claim their place near Pont Neuf and in front of Paris city hall.

The two beaches play host to a series of games including beach volleyball and entertainers.

"I think it's great -- it makes Paris seem much friendlier," one semi-naked sunworshipper told LCI television, Reuters reported.

The only thing missing is the sea, while sunbathers are banned from cooling off in the Seine.

Also, Jean-Christophe Choblet, the brains behind the project, told newspaper Liberation, that it was not really a beach either.

"It's not really a beach -- we would need more than a thousand lorry loads of sand to cover three kilometres of riverbank," he said.

Some are not convinced by the project. William Le Roy, a 23-year-old waiter told the newspaper Le Parisian: "Frankly, Paris is not a seaside town... It looks artificial and doesn't fit with the city's image."

The road itself is dedicated to pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers, while the sun-loungers and beaches are set back from the river. The site is open to pedestrians from 9.30 a.m. to 11 p.m..




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