Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April in Paris: Paris Plage

By patrick janicek - PLAGE DE SABLE, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33116762
By Peter Haas /, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36943405
Regular visitors to Some Favourite Things might remember that in the past I've mentioned that whimsical Parisian idea of turning a normally very busy roadway along the Seine not far from the Louvre into a temporary beach, complete with sand and palm trees during July and August. Of course, during the hot Paris summer city-dwellers flock en masse to the coasts so the only people you would be likely to encounter on the plage would be other tourists and students - everybody else either away or working.

Every year since it started about 15 years ago there have been new features added - a shuttle ferry across to the plage on the autre rive, a floating swimming pool, even another beach area in the northeast area of the city.

One of the things I hadn't realized about Paris-Plages is that every year the sand, thousands of tonnes of it, was trucked in from the northern beaches of Normandy by the construction company which donated it. This rather large contribution to Paris sparked concerns about the possibility of favouritism at city council. 

In addition, it has recently been noticed that this construction company, LafargeHolcim, a huge Franco-Swiss company with multi-national interests, has recently come to an agreement with the armed groups in Syria regarding its cement works there, allowing them to stay in production. 

Then, to top it off, the company, which has cement production sites and operations in three of the states bordering Mexico, is bidding with the US government to build the US-Mexico wall for Trump. 

The Paris municipal government (Mairie) is unhappy with these activities of Lafarge and has decided to end the sand part of the beach in favour of opening the area for multi-purpose recreational use over a slightly longer time period of spring and summer. Traffic has already been halted for spring 2017 and below is a recent (early April) photo of the new look.