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Paris scuba-divers gaze at the Eiffel Tower

The Red Sea, Belize and the Cayman Islands are all scuba-diving hotspots, but what about Paris?

As of Friday, would-be divers can take the plunge in the landlocked French capital, with a practice dip in a pool beneath the city's most famous monument, the Eiffel Tower.

A dozen professional scuba instructors are offering one-on-one lessons in the heated, above-ground pool at the foot of the tower as part of an initiative to promote the sport among Parisians and visitors.

The lessons last about 30 minutes and include a how-to demonstration, safety lecture, as well as the swim. Wet-suits, scuba gear and a biodegradable towel are provided.

The best part: it's free.

The pool has waterproof photos of fluorescent fish. It measures 15 meters (50 feet) by 15 meters. Just 1.20 meters (4 feet) deep, it's a safe for beginners and children aged 8 and older, said the event's organizers, an umbrella group of scuba associations.

New Zealander Adrian Carter was among the first to get his feet wet on Friday - day one of the initiative which lasts through June 10.

"I came here to see the Eiffel Tower but this is better than the Eiffel Tower," said Carter, a 28-year-old computer programmer and first-time diver. "Through the water you can see the monument. It's magnificent."

Still, unseasonably nippy weather appeared to discourage other would-be divers. With Paris temperatures hovering around 16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday, more people were milling around the pool's perimeter, watching the instructors' underwater antics, than actually queuing up for a lesson.

Organizers expect up to 3,000 people to take the plunge during the 10-day-long event - if the weather improves.

English tourist Jonathan Doneley, another first-time diver who took the plunge Friday, called the experience "awesome" but said he hoped to make his next dive in the Tropics.

"I'm still shivering," he said after the lesson, his lips purple and teeth chattering.

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