Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"I Love Paris in the Summer when it Sizzles"

Paris Plage, the beach on the Seine, complete with brightly colored deck chairs and umbrellas set among 2,000 tons of sand trucked in by the city, has been an international sensation and a hit with Parisians stuck in the city during the dog days of summer. Year-round, roller-bladers and walkers replace cars along the quays on Sundays, and soon it will be possible to rent bicycles at low cost in the Metro subway stations for those who want to bike around central Paris.

Less well known is the massive work being done on a tramway designed to circle Paris, allowing residents of outlying districts to travel from one to another without having to go through the city center. The tram, which will be bordered by lawns and thousands of trees, is one of an array of policies aimed at improving the polluted Parisian environment. The hope is to reduce pollution emissions in the city by 50% by 2010. Beautiful, expensive, crowded and beset with gridlock traffic from early morning until late evening, Paris offers the traditional urban mix of glamour and vexation.

(Excerpts from an article by Alissa J. Rubin; Photo by Jacques Brinon / AP)

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