the Molitor swimming pool, a Paris institution

Piscine d'Eté

This is the Molitor. In the upper left background you can see the glittering Eiffel Tower.

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 Paris’s 16th arrondissement, 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.

In the winter, the Molitor converted into a skating rink. “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 !

molitor skating rink

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 down. It became a venue for raves and a canvas for graffiti artists.

molitor graffitti

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 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.  Click on the link below and scroll down a little bit. Watch how the Molitor re-invents itself over the decades. Chic !