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Paris returns stretch of riverbank to pedestrians

Children play on the renovated Left Bank of the Seine river where a new promenade has been inaugurated, Wednesday, June 19, 2013 in Paris. The 2.3 km (1.4 miles) walkway offers gardens, cafes, culture and sports activities. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

PARIS (AP) -- Paris has given back a stretch of its riverbank to pedestrians — and just in time for summer.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe inaugurated the 2.3-kilometer (1.4 mile) stretch along the Seine River between the Royal and Alma bridges on the Left Bank on Wednesday. Once a road with buzzing traffic, it's now a liberating walkway with athletic activities, restaurants, a floating garden, a picnic spot and a children's area.

The project got underway back in April 2010 and has cost about 35 million euros ($47 million) to complete. Delanoe has made environmental concerns one of his top priorities. He brought to Paris the bicycle rental system known as the velib, followed by a similar system in the form of electric cars.