Fancy a swim under the Eiffel Tower? The idea may fill some travel purists with horror but for many of us, a dream trip to Paris may be the only opportunity to swim and bask in the sun underneath an international icon.
Don't panic, you will not be swimming directly in the Seine. This has been banned since 1923, although no one pays much attention to this law. If you do get caught, the fine is 38 Euros which, let’s face it, isn’t that much of a deterrent! The Eiffel Tower pool will be purpose built.
In fact, the Mayor of Paris has stated that the water will be “mountain lake quality” which slightly beggars belief but you can be assured that you will not be swimming in a toxic soup. There will even be a flag system to alert swimmers if water quality falls below an unacceptable level.
Now, before you book your trip with the intention of taking a dip, please note that the Eiffel Tower Pool will not be ready until around 2024, irrespective of whether the city of Paris wins their Olympic bid or not. Happily, there are other alternatives if you want to take a Parisian dip al fresco, this summer.
Swimming in the Villette
The Bassin de La Villette in the 19 arr will offer three pools, totalling 90 metres or the equivalent of 1 ½ Olympic swimming pools. There will be a 40 cm deep Children’s pool, a 100 – 120 cm deep pool for primary/ grade school children and a 2 m deep pool for adults.They will be located near the Quai de la Loire, downstream of the Moselle Footbridge.
The pools will open this year from July 15 to September 15 with plans to open mid June in 2018. Exact hours are unknown at this stage, but the pools are expected to be available for around 10 hours per day. There will be toilets (thankfully), showers and life guards.
The pools are built into the Seine and use the red flag water quality system. The past four years have seen good water quality without any risk to the health of swimmers.
Those travelling with kids, will love the wave simulator which should be located near the swimming area. This simulator is usually open in the afternoons between 13.00 and 19.00 and is, joy of joys, free. If getting tossed around by waves isn’t your thing, you can just do what the locals do, and dive straight into the adult pool and swim away to your heart’s delight.
Is a traditional pool your thing?
There is a traditional pool with stunning views located between the Pont Marie and Pont de Sully in the 4 arr. It is not huge by any means, but the view of the Seine towards the Ile St Louis is jaw dropping. This charming pool is open in July and August and even better, is absolutely free.
Another option is to visit the Josephine Baker Pool in the 13 arr. Built on a barge on the Seine, it is 25 m x 10 metres or half the length of an Olympic Pool. It offers four lanes for the serious swimmer and incredible views. The cost is 6.00 E for 2 hrs in July and August and it stays open until late in the evening.
You can reach this pool via Metro 6, Quai de la Gare (four minutes walk), Metro 14, Francois Mitterand Library (ten minutes walk) or the RER C Francois Mitterand Library (ten minutes walk).
As with all pools in France there are a myriad of mystifying and sometimes downright peculiar rules and regulations that you are expected to follow. Be warned, deviating from these rules can result in refusal of admission or even worse, being frogmarched our of the pool area by an irate life guard or pool attendant.
Briefly, the most benign rules involve,
1)No board shorts
2)Swimming caps must be worn
3)No day shoes on pool deck
4)Shower before you go into the pool.
Parisians tend to maintain a private persona when using their local pools, so be discrete regarding selfies or taking photographs where there are children in the background. This is frowned upon and you may even find yourself asked to leave. Nevertheless, don’t let this deter you from enjoying a day in the sun. Common sense and respect for local values will enable you and your family to have a fantastic day. Summer can be brutal in Paris so it is good to know there are options available if you want to keep your cool.
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photo credits: all black & white Robert Doisneau
Want to know more ?
From Jean-Baptiste Savoja at the Seine Saint Denis Tourism Board
Josephine Baker Pool & Hours Info