Paris plans new beach on riverbank

Seine to be transformed if Mayor succeeds in shutting urban expressways

Paris is to be given a permanent "beach", or car-free zone on the lower quays of the Seine, under controversial plans unveiled yesterday by the city's Mayor, Bertrand Delanoe.

Two-lane urban motorways, which have disfigured one of the world's most beautiful riverscapes for four decades, would be partially abandoned and replaced by parks, foot and cycle paths by 2012.

The proposals are a permanent extension of the "Paris Plage", or beach, which has replaced a section of the urban expressway on the Right Bank of the Seine each summer since 2002.

Under the plan, a kilometre-long stretch of the Left Bank from the Musée d'Orsay to just before the Eiffel Tower, would become a permanent park, footpath and cycle track. According to the town hall's preliminary plans, there might even be small off-shore islands, complete with palm trees.

To the disappointment of Green politicians and anti-car campaigners, the eastbound two-lane highway on the right, or north, bank of the river would not disappear completely.

Cars would still be allowed to drive along the lower quays but a 3km section through the historic heart of the city would be reduced to a "riverside boulevard".

Motorists, who can now drive at up to 90kph, would be slowed down by traffic lights. They would have to share the space with pedestrians and cyclists. Part of the existing road would be given over to new leisure areas.

The proposals, which will go out for public consultation, will infuriate the Parisian car and taxi drivers' lobbies who already complain about traffic jams in the city. They will also anger green lobbyists, who had been pestering Mr Delanoe to close the riverside expressways completely.

The Socialist Mayor said yesterday that his plan would "truly change Paris" and allow the French capital to "rediscover its relationship with the river".

To have completely closed the Voie Georges Pompidou on the right bank of the river, would have caused terrible traffic congestion and "discredited the project", Mr Delanoe said. By introducing traffic lights and reducing the space for cars the lower quays would be transformed from a "motorway" to a "human, lived-in boulevard". The Mayor estimated that one in four cars would be discouraged from using the lower quay on the right bank. Journey times would be increased by only five minutes.

It was the former Prime Minister and President Georges Pompidou who infuriated Parisian traditionalists by turning the lower river quays into separate east and westbound fast roads from 1967. Mr Pompidou, a great modernist, insisted on going ahead with the plan despite strident opposition – and despite the fact that he lived on the Ile Saint Louis overlooking one of the new stretches of urban autoroute.

The eastbound Voie Georges Pompidou, on the Right Bank, much busier than the westbound road on the Left Bank, now takes more than 40,000 cars each weekday. From 2002, Mr Delanoe has ordered a section of the road opposite the Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint Louis to be closed for part of each July and August.

For five weeks, the asphalt is covered with bars, sand-pits, deckchairs and palm trees in large pots. The "Paris Plage" idea has been hugely popular and has been copied by cities all over the world.

Mr Delanoe's plan for a permanent extension of the idea has to go not only to public consultation but for approval by the national government, which has the final say on all roads of more than local importance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine