‘Doing more exercise’ and ‘losing weight’ are on just about everybody’s list of New Year’s Resolutions. (And if they’re not on yours, then you must be looking pretty good already, so well done you, not that we’re jealous much!)
A little while ago, we looked at places to work out in Paris, but that’s not the only way to get fit of course. Paris is a great place to go for a swim—and not just because you can ogle plenty of attractive men while you’re at it. The city has nearly forty public pools, both indoors and outdoors, some of which are real design classics.
If you’re staying in a fancy hotel, then chances are you might have a small, private pool somewhere in the basement. But if you’re making like a real Parisian and renting a furnished apartment, then you’ll have to make like the rest of us and visit one of the city’s public pools, les piscines municipales.
Don’t believe the stereotypes: the French are actually obsessive about hygiene and there are very strict rules about what constitutes appropriate swimwear. Two rules in particular sometimes catch visitors out, and lifeguards won’t hesitate to blow their whistle and throw you out if you don’t stick to them.
Firstly: you have to have a swimming cap (even if you are absolutely bald, or as good as)—they don’t want any nasty greasiness from your hair getting in the water. Secondly: no shorts are allowed, so it’s tight-fitting Speedoes only. While that might intimidate shyer swimmers, the idea is that you’ll keep your trunks only for the pool, and not come in wearing board that you’ve got dirty in the park. Whether it’s logical or not is besides the point—those are the rules.
You can find a full list of public pool prices (usually not more than three euros) and opening times on Paris.fr (in French), but here are three of our favourites. We’ll come back to places to swim outside later in the summer when the weather is more suitable!
Piscine des Halles (aka, Suzanne Berlioux)
The most central pool, right in the heart of the Marais, and popular with the locals, meaning you can expect to see some pretty athletic specimens. It might not look very attractive, but it’s open late and measures a full 50 metres.
Piscine Georges Valléry
A lot further out, but easily accessible by taking metro line 11 to Porte des Lilas, this is another Olympic-sized pool that has a removable roof, providing excellent sunbathing opportunities in the summer.
Piscine de la Butte aux Cailles
On the other side of the river in the trendy Buttes aux Cailles neighbourhood, this unusually-sized 33 metre pool is an Art Nouveau design classic first opened in 1922. It’s worth a visit for the architecture alone!