To Experience Paris Up Close And Personal, Plunge Into A Public Pool


So when I moved to Paris last August, I quickly developed a to-visit list of public pools across the city, many dating from the 1930s, during the height of the Art Deco architectural craze. They’re stunning.

Take the Piscine des Amiraux, built in 1930 on the city’s working-class northern edge. It’s a long, thin pool, with walls covered in white subway tiles. Look up, and you see a skylight roof, above two rings of balconies lined with the green doors of individual changing rooms. You hang your stuff on anchor-shaped hooks, and when you are done swimming, a cabin boy comes and opens the door for you.

It all feels like swimming back through time.

But even the more modern pools offer touches of beauty that seem luxurious to a North American eye raised on functionality.

Most have huge windows, letting natural light pour in. Many open onto lush gardens. I was so taken with two trees spilling lush pink blooms down one side of the Jean Taris pool that I didn’t notice the dome of the Panthéon rising behind them until the lifeguard, helping me identify the trees, pointed it out. (Crepe myrtle, by the way.)


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