Text: Nick Forrester Image: Grenouille O_O
Swimming isn’t really the same in summer unless you can do it outside. But where can one possibly hope to find outdoor swimming in central Paris?
There are 30 or so public swimming pools located within the Périphérique, all very well priced at around 3 Euros for a one-off entry. However, most of them are serious indoor exercise areas; many boast hostile 70’s facades; and attract such little publicity that most visitors to the capital wouldn’t know a Parisian pool if it was staring them in the face.
All but the Piscine Josephine Baker. The only swimming pool to be built in Paris in the last 18 years, which is spectacularly set on the River Seine. It floats on the river, just next to the Quai François Mauriac and the retractable roof allows for prime sunbathing territory. Priced at a relatively modest 5 euros for a 2 hour dip and open until 10-11pm during the week, it is surely the jewel in the crown of Parisian swimming pools.
Though it also has a Jacuzzi, offers stunning views over the river, features an attractive sleek exterior and recycles water from the river (returning it cleaner) … it would be too much to expect this gem not to be absolutely heaving on sunny days and weekends.
This leaves three other outdoor options this summer. The Piscine Butte aux Cailles in the 13th is a particularly special one. With an Art Nouveau design, one indoor and two outdoor pools this provides an attractive swimming option. The outdoor pools are still partially heated by the hot springs which were discovered on the site in 1866 and the indoor pool features a magnificent curved Art Nouveau roof, painted bright yellow and red
Piscine Georges Hermant, located in the 19th, behind Buttes Chaumont has an impressive plastic retractable roof. The pool itself is Olympic sized and with the roof down there is sunbathing space either side. Also in the North is the Piscine Roger Le Gall, in the 20th, which offers a large outdoor pool. Though it is perhaps the most unattractive of the bunch, a 50 metre outdoor pool in Paris is not to be sniffed at.
Though not an outdoor pool, the well-loved Art Deco influenced Piscine Pontoise, situated in the 5e is open until 22h or 23h, so that you can enjoy a peaceful evening swim.
Now, it being France and all there is of course a catch; skimpies and swimming hats are compulsory in all municipal pools. French authorities say it’s all about distinguishing between shorts, that can be worn anywhere, and trunks, for exclusively for the purpose of swimming, which stops the water from becoming dirty (not bringing in dirt from outside).
So, for the bold, the hot and those missing out on holidays, Paris’ quintessentially French and very modestly priced swimming pools await your pale latexed bodies.