Isn’t this a gorgeous photograph? In the upper left background you can see the glittering Eiffel Tower.
And what is the Molitor, you might well ask. Why, it’s the city’s most fashionable swimming pool, darling, and it has quite a history. Constructed in 1929 in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, it was intended to resemble an ocean liner, with different levels, white railings and circular windows. It’s a marvellous example of the Art Déco style of its time.
Future Tarzan actor, Johnny Weissmuller, was a lifeguard there. He spent a season giving swimming lessons and rescuing damsel bathers in distress.
The Molitor is also remembered by Parisians for its transformation into a skating rink in winter.
“I remember a confined, very crowded place”, reminisces Corinne, a Parisian schoolgirl in 1958. “We used to turn endlessly, bothering each other.”
“It was a place where rich kids from the 16th arrondissement and Boulogne-Billancourt picked each other up. All the girls wore crew neck cardigans buttoned on the back and Hermes scarves crossed in the front and tied up on their backs.” Chic !
By 1989, though, the 60-year-old pool fell into ruin. The city of Paris didn’t have the funds to renovate, so it closed. It became a venue for raves and a canvas for graffiti artists.
Oddly enough, 4 years later another famous swimming pool in Paris – the Deligny – which was a floating pool on the river Seine, would sink. I used to go to the Deligny when I first arrived in Paris in the early 1990s.
But all’s well that ends well, my darlings. Today the Molitor is swank – restored back to its former glory, but with a modern twist. It’s part of a hotel. A luxury hotel. For many Parisians, though, it’s an unaffordable luxury. People can use the pool if they stay at the hotel (from 215 euros per night), join the Molitor club (3,000 euros per year) or pay for a one day membership (150-180 euros).
Here’s a beautifully-done video of the pool’s history and its sparkling new life today. Watch how the Molitor re-invents itself over the decades. Chic !