Can you believe this is in Paris? For all the city dwellers who can’t make it out of town to spend their summer on a beach, or for the travelers who got a hot deal on a Paris vacation only to find the town mostly deserted during the month of August, our fair city has created an annual tradition to help beat the heat: Paris Plages.

Begun in 2002 by Bertrand Delanoà  « as a consolation prize to city-stuck Parisians and an attraction for tourists, the Paris Plages take over the typically paved or cobblestone Paris streets along the north side of the Seine between the Louvre and Hà´tel de Ville and at La Villette Basin by an enormous amount of sand and, in conjuction, fun. Running now through August 19, the faux beaches feature lounging deck chairs, pétanque fields, “seaside cafés” and, of course, shade umbrellas to escape the sweltering summer heat. Kids can play in a pirate-themed sandy playground complete with low-hanging ziplines, while adults cool off with 4┚ ¬ pints of beer from one of the many pop-up stands along the beach.

In addition to everyday fun in the sun, Paris Plages features tons of free events, such as treasure hunts, ballroom dancing, “baby-foot” (or foosball), tai chi classes, and a massive screen to watch the London Olympics. A word to the wise: The Villette Bassin location has a much calmer vibe and is quite a bit shorter, while the Seine location is more energetic and boasts more sand to build castles with. The only thing I can’t comprehend is from where and how do they get all that sand in?

Paris Plages
July 20-August 19, every day 8am to midnight
Voie Georges Pompidou (along the Seine near Hà´tel de Ville), and La Villette Bassin

Tai-chi classes
Dance floor below the Quai du Louvre
Every morning from 10am to 12pm

Ballroom dancing
Dance floor below the Quai du Louvre
Every afternoon from 5pm to 8pm
Depending on the day: rock, tango, salsa, etc. No booking required.