Paris wants to 're-conquer' the river banks of the Seine with gardens and car-free areas for sports and leisure. After the success of Paris Plage, which has reached this year its 11th edition with two beaches open until August 19 along the river, the city administration is working on the banks of the Seine to convert them from the busy streets they have been since the 1970s into green spaces.
Bordeaux, Lion and Toulouse are following suit and are investing in their river banks to turn them into parks hosting sportsand cultural centres as well as cafes.
The project promoted by Paris' Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoé is so far the most ambitious, though strongly opposed by the former majority government party, the conservative UMP which was campaigning for the river banks to be devoted to economic and commercial activities without restrictions for cars.
Starting next spring, part of the Seine river banks will be closed to traffic, a green space for Parisians and tourists to enjoy for a walk or to practice sport. The Left Bank will sacrifice 2.3 kilometres of roads to create areas for pedestrians and bicycles, gyms and cultural centres along with 'floating gardens' over the river.
On the Rive Droite, new pedestrian areas will make for a pleasant stroll and will better connect the Musee d'Orsay, Quai Branly and the Louvre.
The capital is also cleaning up and renovating its south-east area, from the gare d'Austerlitz to the 13th arrondissement.The old station will host the new 'city' of fashion and design stretching along the railways, modeled on London's Docks
Other French cities are investing on their river banks. Lion has built gardens over the roads on the river banks of the Rhone and Saone rivers and the city administration is working on an even more ambitious project along 25 kilometres of the Saone river banks.
Toulouse will build a park along 32 kilometres of the Garonne river which will concern 3,000 hectares of land, nine times bigger than New York's Central Park. Bordeaux has already transformed 4.5 kilometres along the Garonne into gardens and areas for pedestrians.