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Paris France beaches are much more plentiful than you might think for a city that is a good 100 miles from the nearest ocean. The Paris Plages program ("plage" is the French word for "beach") was begun by the Office of the Mayor in 2002 as a way to provide an authentic beach experience for those city residents who were not able to head off to the ocean during the summer, and sets up beaches right in the city. It is to these beaches near Paris that many residents of the city escape during the hot months of July and August.
The Paris Plages are set up around the third week of July and are active through most of August. Huge amounts of sand are brought into the city and laid out in places along the rivers and canals. Riverside streets are blocked off to vehicular travel. Lounge chairs are lined up facing the water. Ice cream vendors stroll through the crowds. There are beach volley ball games, free concerts, kayaking, and all the other activities usually associated with the beach.
This unique phenomenon of Paris France beaches can be found in three areas of the city. The first Paris Plages beach opened in 2002, and is located along the riverside near the Louvre Museum to the Pont de Sully that crosses the river over the Ile de Saint Louis. Along this stretch of beach you will find a swimming pool (there is no swimming allowed in the river), cooling pools, a concert stage with evening performances, rock climbing walls, and boardwalk-style cafes. The riverbank around the Pont de la Gard provides another setting, and the third setting is at the Bassin de la Villette, a large man-made lake that connects the Canal de l'Ourcq and Saint-Martin Canal and contains a modern and extensive water sports complex with kayaks, canoes, sailboats, and pedal boats all available free of charge. Instructors are also available free of charge until late in the evening.
These Paris France beaches provide sandy places to lounge along the river that residents of the city center haven't enjoyed in a very long time. They are open free of charge every day during the month from 8:00 a.m to midnight. Unlike some of the jet set beaches on the French Riviera, there is no topless sunbathing allowed in the city. Since some riverside streets are closed to vehicular traffic, there are shuttle ferries and water taxis available.
The historic River Seine flows from around the town of Dijon to the southeast of Paris, through the center of the city, and on through Normandy where it eventually empties into the English Channel at Le Havre. The river is navigable for almost its entire length, and there are some beaches near Paris scattered along its shores in the countryside. If you have booked river cruises, you will sail past these beaches as you navigate the Seine. Otherwise, the closest beaches near Paris will be found in Normandy around the city of Le Havre. These also happen to be the famous beaches of the D-Day Invasion, including Omaha and Juno Beach. Tours to this area will reveal the German fortifications as well as the American, British, and Canadian cemeteries.
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