Paris Plage

Pompidou Expressway, Right Bank of the Seine
Paris, France

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

Cars are stricken from the expressway along the Seine for one month every summer, as it turns into a pedestrian paradise.

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Why It Works

For one month every summer, the Georges Pompidou Expressway along Paris’s Right Bank transforms into a pedestrian refuge replete with a sandy beach. A dazzling array of attractions vie for your attention, from activities like dance lessons, climbing walls, games, and swimming (in floating pools, not the Seine, thankfully), to amenities like beach chairs, cafes, misting fountains, and shady palm trees. Its enormous popularity can be traced to strong management and innovative programming, which keep the place humming well into the night with shows and performances. Though financed in part by corporate sponsors, the acknowledgements are appropriately modest. There are no outrageous logos on display, and the experience never feels overwhelmed by commercialism. Paris Plage is a truly public space of tremendous benefit to everyone.

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