Mais oui! You can take a dip in the evening in Paris in a particularly alluring place that is the premiere swimming site in Paris – the Piscine Pontoise, also known as Piscine du Quartier Latin. If you are a fan of Kieslowski’s Three Colours Blue, you will remember the swimming scene with the beloved French actress, Juliette Binoche, in this piscine. And Jacques Cousteau tested his first deep-sea diving suit here, though one wonders how effective this not-very-deep body of water might prove for testing purposes.
Located in a graceful art deco building in the heart of Paris, the Pontoise pool is officially listed as a Historical Monument and has a delightful atmosphere with natural light spilling through a dramatic, opaque glass ceiling. Two stories of 160 individual cabins surround the pool, offering swimmers a private changing area.
At 33 meters in length (108 feet), it’s not an Olympic-sized pool and can often be crowded. In fact, you should avoid going on Wednesdays, when the French children are not attending school. But the hours may draw you for an evening swim. From Monday through Friday, you can purchase a night ticket to use the pool from 8:00 p.m. to midnight.
In addition to swimming, visitors enjoy other activities from squash classes and fitness club to a revitalizing sauna and whirlpool, and even a restaurant. Parisian pools – there are 38 throughout the city – are open throughout the year, but it is always a good idea to double-check your pool choice for hours, rules and scheduled days of closing. Many, for example, close on Monday.
You also will want to be aware of rules observed by all municipal pools. Most French pools require everyone to wear bathing caps – bonnets du bain, and speedo-style briefs are de rigueur for men – no boxers or square-cut trunks allowed. Bring your own flip flops and towels.
Another intriguing pool you may want to try is Piscine Josephine Baker – yes, she certainly captured the attention and imagination of the French! This one is so unique, because it is a glass-walled pool on a barge that is permanently located below the Bastille. It’s particularly pleasant in warm weather, when the retractable glass roof opens to sunny skies.
Extras include a steam room, 2 solariums, gym and Jacuzzi. Can’t you just imagine your note to friends back home? “Took a dip in the Josephine Baker pool today in Paris …” Certainly guaranteed to pique some envy in your friends! And we rather imagine that Ms. Baker might have chaffed at the swim suit requirement.
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