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Paris Expressway Transformed Into Mini-Beach, Mall

The city of Paris has turned an expressway along the River Seine into a beach and pedestrian mall. For several weeks cars will be replaced by walkers, cyclists, roller bladders and people sunning themselves. The $1.5 million project is part of the city's efforts to give people precedence over vehicles.

Along an embankment of the River Seine in the heart of Paris, musicians have sought shelter from the sun and the heat under the bridges that cross the river.

They are the only ones avoiding the summer weather. Three-kilometers of the Voie George Pompidou, normally filled with two lanes of high-speed traffic, are crowded with thousands of pedestrians enjoying abnormally warm weather and taking up the city's offer to return the river to the people.

All along this part of the Right Bank of the Seine, a few meters from some of Paris's most famous landmarks, there are mini beaches created for a six-week festival. In some places, sand has been brought in, in others grass or cobblestones. In the roadway are palm trees in planters.

People sprawl in beach chairs or sit under umbrellas. There are miniparks for children, cafes and places to fish. Above the embankment at City Hall, a beach volleyball arena has been created with trucked-in sand.

Nobody is in the water though; swimming in the Seine is prohibited. So many people sit looking at the river, which is filled with excursion boats packed with tourists staring right back at them.