The Georges Pompidou Expressway runs along the north bank of the Seine River. Once a year, the city closes the expressway and covers it with sand. The result is Paris Plages, a place for Parisians to relax on summer holidays. There are (expensive) snack bars dotting the “beach” all along its length. There are various forms of entertainment, both officially planned and improvised. First-aid station there on the left. You can see that this is actually a street, partially covered with sand. The event passes beneath many of the city’s best-known bridges. I think this is one of the improvised entertainments.
Free chairs, umbrellas, hammocks, and sand toys are provided on the “beach.” A lot of the entertainment is designed to appeal to kids. Such as this clown, who makes balloons into animals and other things and who also likes to make noise by stretching the balloons. Paris Plages gives the city’s residents extra vacation options. It extends through most of central Paris
, on the Right (north) Bank. I think this play area is supposed to look like a pirate ship. The spaces beneath the bridges usually conceal portable toilets. Plus the occasional accordion player and/or screaming brat. The event is intended for Parisians, but of course tourists are welcome to visit. The traffic it receives varies a lot with the weather. I think (and hope) this is drinking water, although it isn’t marked as such. As we move east and the day wears on, the crowds increase. Sometimes it’s hard to get past all the people. This huge sand castle was built by Disneyland® Paris Resort. Next to it is an area for young kids to enter a sand-castle-building contest. Kids build their castles inside plastic rings, and people vote for the best castles. This is one of the contest entries. Here’s a winning entry.
A large and beautiful sculpture, but nobody’s allowed to touch it. This day is cloudy and not extremely hot, so traffic is lighter than usual. Still, a pretty good crowd, and essentially all French—very few tourists. The tourists are very close by, but they don’t stray off the beaten tourist paths. Another extremely expensive snack bar. But if you’re thirsty, you pay. Here you can see that this is really an expressway in disguise. Another big crowd here because of some improvised entertainment. The kind that never bothers to pay for those pesky performance licenses. This little park is open year-round, next to the expressway with all the car hire Nice Airport
outlets. It’s called the Square du Port de l’Hôtel de Ville. That’s the Île Saint Louis in the background on the left. And the Île de la Cité in the background on the right. From this park you can see many different Paris bridges at once. The park is accessible via a pedestrian bridge when the expressway is open. The tourists on this boat are probably mystified by Paris Plages.
The commentary on the boats never even mentions the event. Tour companies and guide books hardly ever mention temporary events. This is the view from street level, on the other side of the expressway. There’s some music here, too. Again, I’m not sure if it’s “official” or not. This is the Batobus boat shuttle, which makes a regular stop here. That other-worldly drone in the background is a boat, not a flying saucer. Here are some pétanque courts, for the many people who like that game. Complete with a place to rent pétanque sets—and buy alcohol. This place has a covered terrace for the people who buy drinks. French people expect a supply of alcohol at any event they attend. The area you see here is inaccessible when the expressway is open. That’s the north side of the Île Saint Louis in the background. Of course, the benches, hammocks, etc., are here only for Paris Plages. You can see where the cars are normally zooming past. More and more people as the afternoon wears on.
The Paris water department is giving out free fruit syrup in cups here. You could then fill the cups with free tap water for some refreshment. Here’s the exact mineral content of Parisian tap water, if you’re interested. Various fountains at the event dispense free, cool tap water. On a hot day, this is the best part of Paris Plages! Large misting devices let people cool off on the very hottest days. This is how they look from street level. Another improvised patio at the river’s edge. The best is made of relatively limited space. The pavilion on the left shows plans for replacing the expressway with a park. Note the guard rail on the side of the expressway. The tourists on the boats are all wondering what they’re looking at. You can see why the city prohibits swimming in the river. A temporary newsstand, so people can read and relax. On the left is a temporary swimming pool, part of Paris Plages. Nobody using it today; either it’s closed or not hot enough outside. With the expressway closed, it’s actually very quiet on the riverbank.
This is one of the most crowded parts of the event. There’s a small live concert stage here, which attracts a lot of people. There’s the stage on the left—more on that in a minute. Here’s an outdoor table football parlor. This is one of those rare games with no electronics that is still very popular. The French call this game “baby-foot.” And here’s where you can rent a table. Here are some cool tricycles used by city sanitation workers. The “men in green” have all sorts of interesting gadgets to help them clean. We’re nearing the eastern end of Paris Plages. This is a dirt-bike track. Something for everyone at Paris Plages! Here’s the fanciest of the live entertainment on the “beach.” She’s singing a rather risqué cabaret song, so I won’t translate. This is the view from street level, above the expressway. These umbrellas are really nice on hot, sunny days. People watching from street level. Access points are limited, since it’s normally an expressway. A closing shot of a place giving free massages.