Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Swim:why we love the water

 I took Lynn Sherr's SWIM on my Kindle to Paris to motivate me to hit many of Paris' community piscines.
'We swam before we walked or breathed, but then we forgot. The same thing happened outside the womb:swimming was practiced regularly in ancient times butvirturally disappeared for centuries'.
 I've been going to piscine St. Germain 6 years running. But this time I made it to Pontoise, perhaps the most spectacular pool in Paris. Wow
 Paris has 38 public pools! 🏊🏊🏽‍♀️🏊🏊🏽‍♀️
 They are extremement well run.
This online chart tells you daily which pools are open and hours. After my Paris bus guide this is my bible.
 Click on each pool's name and all info is there:
Metros, velib stations, buses, free classes etc.
 The entrance to St. Germain 12, rue Lobineau 75006 is a hop away from Patisserie Gerard Mulot.
 Every pool has vending machines selling cheap caps, bathing suits, goggles, everything but towels and flip flops/les tongs.
So don't tell me you left your stuff at home.
'Pools used to be called tanks, whether they were actual tanks full of water or just holes in the ground. What you wore in a tank was 'a tank suit'.
 At St.Germain they give you a hanger for your clothes and you go into the changing cabinets. You hand it back to the attentant but hold onto the red rubber numbered# bracelet. Post-swim you hand in the bracelet to get your stuff back. et voila!
 St. Germain is huge and very clean! All of the pools I visited were the same.
 I felt like Burt Lancaster swimming my way across Paris' pools.
 Be not afraid.
The pools come with crystal clear instructions - les regles
Illustrated charts of dos and DON'TS.
 At piscine Keller 15th arr. you get duckie 🦆  instructions.
 The entry way at Keller is very orderly. You either buy an individual entry ticket or have an abonnement/subscription card good for 3 months. Pas cher. Pas de tout.
This is piscine Butte au Caille in the 13th. Once famous for using fresh water but someone said this is no longer true. Still a gorgeously huge and clean pool - altogether a delight. You are not allowed to take pictures at the pool btw 🛑
 The pool attendent noticed my bathing bag.
'Ah...Pierre Herme! the best pastry!'
'But it's $$$' I responded.
'Yes, but it's the BEST!'
Listen to your pool attendent. They know.
 All pools have hair dryers (really hand dryers) though the changing room setups can vary from pool. Most pools have lockers. You will need a 1 euro or .50 to use them. It is returned, when you get your things.
 The tarifs are low 3-4 euros a swim.
Better yet get a card for 10 swims.
This summer I'll get the 3 month card and hit as many pools as possible. Anyone can swim. You don't have to be a resident or French.
Gerard Mulot (open at 6:30 am) is just down the block from the pool. Pierre Hermé is a 5 minutes walk. 
 You can happily 'reward' yourself for a good workout immediately post-swim = Instant gratification.
If you love swimming - (Lynn Sherr notes, it's the best of all exercises and I agree) don't miss her celebratory book, SWIM.
It will get you into the water in Paris or at home.
'This book is about:
an inquiry into why we swim—the lure, the hold, the timeless magic of being in the water. It’s a look at how swimming has changed over the millennia, how this ancient activity is becoming more social than solitary today. It’s about our relationship with the water, with our fishy forebearers, and with the costumes that we wear'.


  1. Carol,
    you offer not only Paris breakfasts, but so much more, and always with not only a touch of class, but such great humor, you truly make my day!

    1. I bet you have gorgeous public pools in Vienna..?

    2. Vienna has the most beautifully located public pools I ever encountered.
      Country Clubs in the USA would be envious, no kidding!
      And there are plenty.
      Even indoor ones.

      gov pools
      Click yourself through the list above
      this is "mine" - where I live.
      Not shown the huge grassy areas with old growth trees and the views
      this one probably has the best view of the whole city of Vienna, also a huge park-like area not shown.

      Pools are truly fantastic here.

  2. Marene Chiesa Bowman12:16 PM

    Perfect, Carol! Thank you!

  3. Hello, I just opened a new blog. I got back from Paris recently, so love your reminders...I used to be a daily swimmer & would find pools wherever I was. Glad you can swim in Paris. Love the direction poster & that the pools are good. I'm going to be taking a Dewey workshop in July, grâce à toi. Merci.

  4. Loved swimming as a young girl~ And later..In recent yrs.. the interest has waned.. down to nothing:)
    These pools are so luxurious..I still remember the smell of swimming in indoor community pools..Loved it..loved the diving boards..even the chlorine smell.
    Some type of chlorine gas was emitted one day and they had to clear the pool and take us all to a nearby hospital..for observation.. we were in the newspaper..This was exciting to us~
    Those are lap of luxury pools carol..Good for you ..

    1. These pools don't leave your skin reeking my Astoria pool
      I don't know why but they seem very clean to me.
      In Paris Socialism is luxurious!

  5. I wish we had that here in Providence! It would be a great way to get exercise and just have a place to go....
    It all looks very efficient.
    I like the book cover - the blue is great

  6. Love swimming! This will be very handy if I'm ever have the time in Paris. :)

  7. I do love swimming--I used to go religiously every day and swim about a mile and a half a day--I could eat whatever I wanted, because I was really fast, and I burned tons of calories. I used to use the fins and the hand paddles and that styrofoam thing inbetween your knees to float with--I got a real workout, but I don't have an inexpensive pool nearby that is as convenient as when I was in VA, so I haven't done that in ages. I loved it, though. Good for you--checking out all the Parisian pools. They look great. Are they super crowded, or can you get a good lane to use?

    1. They don't feel crowded because they are so spacious and airy with high sky-light
      Pontoise was the most crowded but the huge size makes up for it.
      Plus there are special hours for school kids/scolaires so they are not there when adults are swimming
      All very orderly.

  8. That`s one thing I always noticed about Parisienne movies, is that it seemed like everyone swam at public pools regularly. I wonder what it is about swimming with parisiennes? How it became such a custom, you don't see that in north america. Any idea?

  9. I can smell the chlorine! Yesterday, I could not post; today I am changing identity to see if I can post.

    1. NO CHLORINE smells at Paris pools!

  10. dear Carol,
    Do you do laps with various styles or ??? This was a very useful post.
    And a private swim is easier than trying to understand the French of your pilates instructor.

    1. I do WATERGYM
      I've been doing it for 8+ years.
      You don't need an instructor or even the belt after a bit.
      Water aerobics is BIG in France for all ages.

  11. Good for you Carol for being so faithful in swimming and exercising. I have a confession. I cant swim. I did take lessons but it terrifies me.. and the chlorine did me in. and my parents had a pool too at one point... but shhh don't tell anyone. :))

  12. You might be interested in the early '60's film "Les Bonnes Femmes" by Claude Chabrol and its major pool scene (3/4-way through). It's a wonderful film about 4 young women in Paris. Part thriller, pt. character study. Fun to see the neighborhoods, the zoo, etc. I'm a big fan of '60's Paris seen in the films of Godard, Truffaut, etc. This is a movie "Mad Men" producer M. Weiner used to research the fashions of ordinary people in the early '60's.
    I wonder how the pool in that film compares to today's Paris pools. They don't look dissimilar to me. The movie is on Netflix and probably can be rented at a good video store.

    Was the author of the pool book you talked about THE broadcaster?

    1. Yes the very same Lynn Sherr
      You can hear her on the leonard Lopat show here:
      Why we love the water

  13. Anonymous1:46 AM

    you are too wonderful and i love you and your blog endlessly. just curious about la piscines...are you a swimmer or just facinated with pools. If you like them half as much as you do macaroons, well then I totally understand and do not even respond!!
    Love you!!

    1. I would have to LOVE pools to go to the bother of visiting 4 in Paris and sneaking photos..
      it seems obvious non?
      I HAVE to go to the pool for sciattica and it's my exercise of choice.
      It's sooooo relaxing and I get a lot of ideas in the pool.
      I've posted before on PB about swimming and pools. This is not the 1st time.
      un verre d'eau 2006
      Piscine St. Germain 2006
      Your Paris Suggestions 2009"
      et voila

  14. Dear Carol. This was a fun post for this French Girl to read. First, I find it reassuring that Parisian pools have not changed that much. For example, we used the "red gizmo" to hang our clothes in tiny lockers as elementary school children (we walked to the nearest pool with our PE instructor once a week.) I also smiled when I read how much you love French pools. As a woman, you can wear your American-made swimsuit there. Most American men I know who showed up at French pools, however, were horrified to find out they could not wear their long swim trunks but had to switch a tiny Speedo instead. Worse: they were offered to "borrow" left-over Speedos if they did not own one. Ah, cultural differences. The spice of life. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. Hahahahaha
      I have heard this complaint many times from American guys
      Whatever they require-it's worth it in my opinion
      We have NOTHING like this in the US
      I went to the public pool in Bordeaux and it was MAGNIFICENT!
      If you love the water you just do what they require.
      c'est tout

  15. Happy Birthday Carol!

    Thanks for bringing delight to all of us during the past years.

    Stef, in sunny Chicago
    (the guy who sent you photos my wife's doll house tea cup settings.)

  16. jrt20008:17 AM

    Made me happy to see your shout out to The of my favorite movies. Very very Mad Men-esque.

  17. Il n'y en a pas trop de peepee la?

  18. Carol, you made me go and count Vienna's public pools: 49!

  19. Wow. The pools in Paris seem much more cool than in London. We have a lot of chlorined pools with horrible changing rooms.

    I like that Marisi has gone and counted 49 pools in Vienna....

    I love swimmimg but would prefer a private pool:)

  20. Anonymous4:17 PM

    I love your post on swimming. I took swimming lessons at 56 years of age. Today, 2 1/2 years later, I'm still taking lessons but they are to qualify as a lifeguard.

    1. I LOVE taking swimming lessons.
      I could do it forever
      For one thing it keeps you from gtting bored in the pool so quickly if you focus on your strokes etc..

    2. Anonymous12:22 PM

      Yes, swimming lessons are great. They do keep you in touch with all the strokes. Having learnt to swim at 56, I'm always fearful of the water. My swim instructor thought that learning life-saving would help me overcome this fear and be more confident and he is right. My lifeguard test is scheduled for Aug 12 2012. Fingers crossed.

    3. BON CHANCE!
      I was afraid as a kid and then took a million lessons and got past it...
      very common to be afraid of breathing underwater yet we do it in the womb and don't think twice.
      HOw did we lose that knack?

  21. I love this post about swimming.
    You really explain things in a funny and entertaining way, but it's not partronizing or useless or something that everyone writes about like lots of other blogs that explain how to do things in Paris. I'm going to try to get D. to go this weekend.
    I think if I get someone to walk me through it and be by my side, I will be able to go by myself and will buy a pass.
    I'll find out how many times a day you can swim too!
    With all those huge burritos in my future I am going to need to swim a lot of laps.


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