Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Paris: Piscine Deligny and Piscine Joséphine-Baker

Swimming in Paris: a long-held ambition, and in July 2011 I decided to take some time out from the sales and gardens and take a dip. I'd previously been a bit daunted by the apparent rules and regulations at French swimming pools, but having put my metaphorical toe in the water in Monaco a few years earlier, I figured I was up to the challenge! With my best terrible French practiced in the metro on the way, I felt ready to venture forth.

I was on a bit of a "women in Paris" bent at the time, and was delighted to discover that the Piscine Josephine Baker is on the left bank of the Seine - actually floating in the Seine - near one end of the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir in the 13th arrondissement

The Seine used to accommodate many floating swimming pools, the last of which , the Deligny sank in a storm in July 1993.

The Deligny was first built in 1801, and the last version in the early 20th Century.

Josephine Baker was an American born actress, civil rights activist, French Resistance heroine, and first American born woman to receive France's highest military honour, the Croix de Guerre.

In 2006, this pool opened. It floats on a barge off the Quai François Mauriac at Port de la Gare. It was built in Rouen and floated up the river.

Photography is banned in the pool....a mother was even prevented from taking some photos of her own children while I was there, so I snuck ONE photo with my iPhone, which I had hidden under my towel.

I got a few shots of the exterior, including from the Passerelle Simon de Beauvoir.

The water is drawn from the Seine, treated, then retreated before being recycled back into the river.

I was quite pleasantly surprised at the generaous opening hours and entry price : approx 5 Euros for 2 hours, and 2.60 Euros per hour thereafter.
French swimming pool etiquette was a bit daunting at first, but there was an English speaking person at the entrance who demystified MOST of it for me - compulsory shower before entering, compulsory swimming cap (fortunately I had brought one from home, having read this to be the case). You get a locker key, and are not allowed to take extraneous bits and pieces onto the pool deck - it's all rather "serieux", even for a pool too small to really do much serieux swimming!

I did manage to transgress in one important aspect - I wore a pair of thongs (flip-flops) in the changing area - and a cleaner man had to rush up to tick me off (yes, man - the changing areas are mixed, with individual changing cabins. There are some individual showers, some mixed.)

Anyway, the cleaner constantly sluiced the floors in the change area, and it appeared that my thongs could have transmitted some Parisian grime to the floor!

Being female, I wasn't caught by the "no boardshorts / Speedos only" rule. An American family with three young children was turned away on this basis!

The pic below I took from the Passerrelle Simone de Beauvoir - a sinuously curving footbridge linking the Bibliotheque Natinale (Mitterand library) and the Bercy district.

Here's  some pics I found on the web, including an artist;s impression of the retractable roof.


gear jane said...

Retractable roof? Wow. Looks like I need to convince my husband to take us to Paris.

Nice shot with the iphone btw.

Sally said...

Thanks gear jane! Yes, you must go to paris !

Graeme said...

Customs around the world are certainly interesting. We’re pretty much advised to wear thongs in the change rooms, showers included. I assume the swim cap rule applied to guys as well. I can sympathise with the American family, in the USA you’re more likely to be asked to leave if not wearing boardshorts. Vive le France on that one. I was in the US in December, so swimming was not a high priority. Somewhat surprised that mid summer in Paris a pool like that wasn’t packed.

Socal Greens said...

Wow, In fairness to your blog.. That 5 minutes of reading took me to places I never been before.. I must commend your broad traveling experience. It is really exceptional and I envy you in a good way..

You also have great photography skills and you captured every details of your memories.

A an agent of a pool service in Palm Beach, I hope and pray that I will not be able to clean pools someday but rather to travel the places to where you've been.

Your blog is really aspirational to dreamers like me.. keep rockin' and blogging...