14 July 2006

Paris: A new bridge, a floating pool and a fake beach

Apparently Simone trumps Josephine on the hierarchy of special events and logistics. To accomodate the opening of Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir (below left) on Thursday, the brand new - and operationally challenged - Piscine Josephine Baker was closed. Yes, again.

De Beauvoir becomes the first woman to have her name given to a Parisian bridge; in this case the 37th bridge in the city and one that leads to a library. How fitting, eh Simone? But, back to this pool…

It’s never been easy for me to wrap my brain around the idea of a floating pool. People in Manhattan have been begging for these contraptions, but the pools remain uniquely Parisian (so far as I know.) They are quite odd. Plain and simple. But, given the real estate required for a real live pool, it's no wonder Parisian and New Yorkers don't mind jumping into the drink...which floats in the drink.

I once took a swim at the Inter-Continental in Montreal in the dead of winter. The room that contained the terrace level swimming pool was enclosed in glass on two sides. It was over-heated and the air in the room was swampy. As I swam, a blizzard raged outside. I’ve never recovered from the sensory confusion of swimming in a hot pool while snow was falling overhead.

The Piscine Josephine Baker replaces the Piscine Deligny (pictured) that sank more than a decade ago. I never saw the Deligny and, to be perfectly honest, there’s something peculiar about an eighty-foot long container of over-chlorinated water floating atop a natural body of water, even if tethered to the dock.

Compared to the sight of those oddballs who willingly swim in the Seine, however, the idea of swimming in a buoyant body of water is not so strange. One would assume there are fewer microbes in the pool than there are in the river.

Despite its €17 million price tag, the Piscine Josephine Baker – and the complex itself - has been closed several times since it opened earlier this month. This is a monumental case of bad timing, given that temps will climb past 35-degrees by Tuesday. Perhaps Josephine’s troubles will cease and swimming will resume.

Paris Plage...coming soon! Mister mister might be able to cool the air for a moment or two.


At 16/7/06 18:19, Blogger Stu "El Inglés" Harris said...

I remember the piscine deligny very well. It was a delight for old pervs like me because you could see topless french women from the Pont de Concorde.


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