Parisians love their city more than anything in the world, except when summer time approaches, and anyone who can get out, gets out. As soon as they get back to work after Christmas holidays (usually two weeks off from work), most Parisian office workers spend their first day back to the office planning their vacations for the entire year. It was always so funny to see this for 15 years working in Parisian offices, and I still keep a fond memory of watching them as soon as they had internet access scurrying around booking tickets to anywhere they could go. July and August were always the most important since most people took three weeks to a full month off, many offices even closed down so workers had no choice. On occasion, an unlucky one didn’t book quickly enough and would find himself looking at being forced to stay in Paris while all of his/her friends would frolic around in Ibiza, Mykonos, Barcelona, Lisbon, London or Crete. As July 1st approached, you would see faces such as this one moping around Paris streets and you knew what it meant, no summer plans and in the olden days, this was quite scary for many.
The Paris-Plages scheme was started in 2002 by Bertrand Delanoë, the Socialist mayor, as a haven for relieving the misery of those cooped up in the sweltering city. He felt that Paris should be enjoyed by those who couldn’t get away in July or August, although he was rarely there to enjoy it himself, unfortunately.
The first beach was created on the Rive Droite (the right bank). In 2006 a second beach was added on the Rive Gauche,(the left bank) and the program was renamed Paris Plages, since there were several of them. Unfortunately for many of the sexy crawlers who come to France in the summer on the prowl of some topless babes, topless sunbathing is not permitted on Paris Plages. Due to hygiene issues, swimming in the Seine is also not permitted.
Paris Plages has been quite successful. The number of visitors has grown each year and every season, new features are added. These include a shuttle ferry linking the two riverbanks, a floating swimming pool, and another beach area at La Villette, in the northeast corner of the city.