We’ve been blogging about specific pools in Paris and thought it was time for a general primer on what to expect in general in public pools in Paris.
Where to find a public pool? Information about the pools is found on a website run by the city of Paris. Pools Paris has an impressive number of pools! Check it out! Going to a new pool is a great reason to check out a new arrondissement and to learn a bit more about Paris and the French.
Now that you’ve found a pool, and checked the location and hours what next? Here is some info that someone used to pools in the US or Canada will find unusual.
Swim trunks for men – Pools in Paris so not allow men’s board shorts type swim trunks. You need to either have what we in the US would call “speedos” or “jammers” (same as speedos but thigh length). However, many of the french men wear something in between – similar in length to the underwear that in the US we call “boy shorts” or “boxers”. If you don’t have any, many pools have vending machines which sell a variety of swim trunks. Another option is to buy a pair ahead of time. Decathalon is a good reasonably priced sports store with multiple locations in Paris which sells such suits.
Swim caps – Swim caps are also required. They don’t have to be the swim caps you see in swim competitions in the US. In fact, most people wear smaller more flexible fabric caps. As with the the swim trunks for men, these can be bought from a vending machine. If there isn’t a vending machine the front desk will often sell them.
Changing into your suit – All pools that we have visited have ample changing rooms. Many have walk-through cabins where you enter one side (the dressed side) and exit the opposite side (the poolside). In other words, the only way to the pool is through a cabin in the changing room. You take your clothes through with you and on the pool side place your items in lockers. A few like Blomet or Auteuil have regular cabins instead of these walk-through cabins.
Where do you leave your clothes? (lockers, cabins etc.) – There is a lot of variation in where you store your clothing and personal items. Berlioux has electronic lockers on the pool side of the changing cabins. The procedure is that you find an empty locker, and input the locker number and a password number of your choosing in the central control panel. Blomet has cabins which are yours for the duration but you will need a 1 euro piece to activate the lock. The 1 euro is returned when you leave. Auteuil has a “cloakroom” where you drop off your belongings.
Hygiene – All pools require you to remove your shoes early on in the process. Often before even getting to the changing area. All pools have a small pool/foot bath immediately before the pool. All pools also required a soapy shower before entering the water.
Coed Showers – This is the difference that I find most surprising. There are generally no private showers. I only saw one at any of the pools (Keller) and that may have been a special handicapped shower. In most pools the showers are coed and public with no separate shower stalls. Even if they are not coed they aren’t private. As in, it is easy to see the men showering and vice versa. Some of the bolder women will turn their backs and take off their tops, but it is near impossible to actually take off your bathing suit while showering. Personally, I would prefer to take a real shower rather than rinse off in my bathing suit, but its the price to pay for swimming in Paris.
We hope this post helps prepare you for swimming in Paris. Give it a try as it is a good way to get a feel for the local culture!
Please let us know if you’ve been swimming and which pool you have been to!