Paris-Plage: La vie en beach
When: July 21-August 20

Paris-Plage is back. And this time, they’ve got a pool. Since the goofy idea launched in 2002, amid furious rants by all and sundry, a three-kilometer stretch of beach smack dab in the middle of Paris becomes a beach, for four weeks out of the year. The battle cry: “Pas d'été sans plage!”

It took 2,000 tons of sand, 300 lounge chairs, assorted parasols and hammocks, hundreds of palm trees and 1.5 million euros to turn the right bank of the Seine River (between the Pont des Arts and quai Henri IV) into Little St. Tropez, back in 2003.

St. Tropez, incidentally, is 541 miles away from Paris, but all sun-worshippers have to do to catch some beach is hop the metro.

This year, town hall’s got a bigger budget, courtesy of sponsors who got to thinking this was a nifty idea (so true), which means more sand for everyone.

That, and more fresh-water fountains, a circulating library for beach books, watercolor exhibit, climbing wall, volleyball, trampolines, open-air concerts, the addition of a third beach, solarium and huge ringside pool, presumably for the dingbats who kept diving into the Seine River.

Urban “beaches” crop up this summer in Berlin and Budapest, as well.

Find it: Near the Pont Neuf, Pont Henry IV, quai des Tuileries, Hotel de Ville.
New “beach” between Pont Notre-Dame and Pont d'Arcole.
Library: quai d'Anjou, between Pont Louis-Philippe and Pont Marie.
Find more travel features in the July 2004 issue of "Arte Six".