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Thread: Swimming in Paris?

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    Very Active Member Red60's Avatar
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    Swimming in Paris?

    I am about to head to Paris for two months. (I know, I know, rough duty.) Staying in the Marais district, 4th Arrondissement. Have never been. Has anyone ever swum in Paris? I don't really need Masters' workouts, as I swim alone mostly. Just need access to pool for workout purposes. Eager for insights if you got 'em. Thanks!

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    Very Active Member Red60's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Perhaps I should have done a little more homework before posing this question. A little more sniffing around led me to the surprising fact that there's an iPhone app called Paris Piscines, which shows pools, dimensions, hours and price. Less clear how lap swim works, but I guess that's something for onsite investigation. Looks like there's a 25m pool nearby.

    So now, I'll adjust my question: anybody have any insights culturally speaking about pools in France? No-no's? (Ou non-nons?)

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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Bring a real bathing suit. They won't let you in the pool in anything that looks like shorts even if they were bought in the bathing suit department. I spent 10 minutes arguing with a lifeguard in perefectly fluent french that my co-workers board shorts were actually a bathing suit, to no avail, the best they could do was refund him his entry fee.

    You might have to try a few pools before finding one you can actually swim in. One pool I tried had 50 people all swimming straight up and back, no circle swimming. They were all doing head up breast or bump-into-each-other free. The only thing I could do that day was use a kickboard for my entire workout.

    I forget the names of the pools and they weren't near where you're going to be anyway. They did have monthly passes which were a better deal than a daily pass. They have monthly passes for the metro too.
    Patriot Masters Swim Team (GMUP)
    http://www.patriotmasters.org/

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    Very Active Member Red60's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Thanks 200free! I appreciate the heads up. I expect to have to shop for a pool where swimming laps has useful norms.

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    Participating Member OldH2O's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Here you can find a list of clubs in Paris http://www.ffnatation.fr/webffn/stru...g=13&iddep=075
    Look for the "natation" square for swimming on the right.
    I see there is a Cercle du Marais, maybe not too far from your abode there. There is also a Paris Aquatique in the third Arrondissement.
    I suspect everything will be firmly shut down in July-August but it might be worth an email or a look at the web sites.

    200 free is 100% right only speedos will do. I swam once in Versailles and they had lanes in pace for "fast" swimmers doing laps (breaststroke kicks not allowed). I guess each pool is different.

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    Participating Member OldH2O's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Here you can find a list of clubs in Paris http://www.ffnatation.fr/webffn/stru...g=13&iddep=075
    Look for the "natation" square for swimming on the right.
    I see there is a Cercle du Marais, maybe not too far from your abode there. There is also a Paris Aquatique in the third Arrondissement.
    I suspect everything will be firmly shut down in July-August but it might be worth an email or a look at the web sites.

    200 free is 100% right only speedos will do. I swam once in Versailles and they had lanes in pace for "fast" swimmers doing laps (breaststroke kicks not allowed). I guess each pool is different.

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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    I am envious. I haven't been to Paris in years, but yes, you might be surprised with the whole bathing suit thing. Make sure you have one you can wear there. If you're lucky you will just pass as a local and people will let you get on with your workout.

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    Very Active Member Red60's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    I'm suitably equipped with two jammers and a couple pairs of goggles. We'll see how this works out--I leave tomorrow, and will report what I find in the next week or so. The list of clubs was fascinating, including a "naturel" option to swim sans any suit at all! (No thanks.)

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Quote Originally Posted by Red60 View Post
    I am about to head to Paris for two months. (I know, I know, rough duty.) Staying in the Marais district, 4th Arrondissement. Have never been. Has anyone ever swum in Paris? I don't really need Masters' workouts, as I swim alone mostly. Just need access to pool for workout purposes. Eager for insights if you got 'em. Thanks!
    As a competitive swimmer who lived in Paris for three years, I can tell you that attempting to practice as a fairly advanced swimmer is a tremendous challenge. Paris has a deceptively long list of pools, but pretty much each one is only open at certain hours of the day (for example, 7-8 AM, 12-1 PM, 7-9 PM) which means that everyone is piling in to the pool at the same time. Add to this the fact that many Parisians apparently enjoy a leisurely swim workout (mostly dry-hair breaststroke with a kick that spans the entire width of the lane), so the pools can get extremely crowded. In particular, I'd avoid the pool in the St. Germain district which is nearly impossible to swim in.

    Lane etiquette is also something to watch out for. In Paris, people who are resting at the wall normally tend to wait until you approach - and then they push off to start swimming. This can be annoying and detrimental to your workout if you swim more than 25 meters at a time. People will also get aggressive if you do flipturns while they are waiting at the wall. They often refuse to let you have some room at the wall to continue your set. It can also be difficult to pass slower swimmers due to the number of other people in your lane - I finally started swimming underneath of them to pass when I could.

    Another potential culture shock could be that some pools have co-ed showers. Most of the pools also have co-ed locker rooms but you have your own private changing room. After you change into your suit and get ready to head to the pool, you will have to step through a mini-pool of standing water for "sanitation" purposes. The water is apparently chlorinated, but the number of people dipping their feet in the same pool of water, chlorinated or not, makes me question the original hygienic purpose of having it there in the first place!

    After putting up with this for awhile, I finally decided to join a swim team. It wasn't perfect, but there were less people in the pool and I was lucky enough to be able to do my own workouts. You might be able to temporarily join a team for the two months that you are there. Here's a list of the clubs in Paris: http://paris.ffnatation.fr/script/annuaire.php

    I would recommend visiting a few pools and figuring out which ones are least crowded, and which would work for you.

    Other than the difficult swimming scene, Paris is a lovely city that I enjoy returning to as often as I can! If you're in the Marais, I recommend Etamine Cafe - delicious food and very friendly service Enjoy your time in the city!

    Julia Galan
    www.swimspire.com

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    Very Active Member philoswimmer's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    It's not Paris, but if you should find yourself down in Montpellier definitely seek out the 50m pool there. It's a beautiful pool with lots of open swim hours. And while the swimmers were pretty slow, there was plenty of room to pass and people were polite about it.

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    Very Active Member ddl's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimspire View Post
    As a competitive swimmer who lived in Paris for three years, I can tell you that attempting to practice as a fairly advanced swimmer is a tremendous challenge.
    .....
    Enjoy your time in the city!
    Great tips! (although... when I saw a new post here I thought it was the OP who had just returned from his 2-month trip to Paris to tell us his/her swimming experience there.

    I once watched through glass window a swimming pool in the basement of Centre Pompidou, Les Halles on a weekend and was appalled by how crowded it was. Totally impossible for a serious swimmer.

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Quote Originally Posted by ddl View Post
    Great tips! (although... when I saw a new post here I thought it was the OP who had just returned from his 2-month trip to Paris to tell us his/her swimming experience there.

    I once watched through glass window a swimming pool in the basement of Centre Pompidou, Les Halles on a weekend and was appalled by how crowded it was. Totally impossible for a serious swimmer.
    Ha! Good point Hopefully all of these tips will serve other swimmers who are going to head out to conquer the Parisian swimming pools. The pool you saw must have been the Suzanne Berlioux pool. Believe it or not, it is less crowded than most others - but not a great place to be in the evening/nighttime hours. One of my favorite pools, despite the crowds, was the "Emile Anthoine" pool near the Bir Hakeim metro stop. All glass windows and an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower.

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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimspire View Post
    The pool you saw must have been the Suzanne Berlioux pool. Believe it or not, it is less crowded than most others.
    The one time I swam in this pool, it was indeed less crowded than others I have swum in. Perhaps that's because the depth of the shallow end is perhaps one foot, and therefore it's impossible to do flip turns (much less not drag your fingertips along the bottom as you approach the wall). And this is certainly one of the newer pools in Paris. (Also has the coed showers, but weirdly, gender-separated changing rooms with female attendants in men's as well as women's.)

    I'm sure the original poster has probably found his preferred pool by now, but if not, my favorite is the Piscine Pontoise, in the latin quarter. It's about a 10 minute walk from the Marais, crossing the Seine and the Isle St. Louis, with wonderful views of Notre Dame. I did it every morning for a week at Christmas at 6:30 in the morning, just as the city was waking up. Magical! As for the swimming, it wasn't too bad for the first hour or so, and then got progressively busier.

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    Very Active Member ddl's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Thanks for more information! Do most Paris pools allow drop-ins/guess pass on a daily basis without a membership?

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Yes they definitely do! Its of course cheaper to buy an "abonnement" which can be a book of 10 passes, or a monthly subscription, but you can go in on a daily basis and they charge you a set fee.

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    Very Active Member ddl's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimspire View Post
    Yes they definitely do! Its of course cheaper to buy an "abonnement" which can be a book of 10 passes, or a monthly subscription, but you can go in on a daily basis and they charge you a set fee.
    Merci beaucoup!

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    Very Active Member Red60's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    I have returned from my two months in Paris. This thread was immensely useful, because accurate. I found a pool near my apartment early on: Piscine Pontoise, in the Latin Quarter, just off Boulevard St. Germain. On my first visit I was stunned to find that there were something like 75 people in this pool trying to swim laps. There was one “fast” lane, but it had seventeen people in it, and most of them were slow. It was a constant negotiation to time my departure and pass other swimmers in the middle third of the lane, keeping an eye peeled for somebody trying to pass coming the other direction.


    On my third swim I had about a dozen in my lane. It seemed like more due a total lack of lane etiquette. On my home planet if you reach the far end of the pool and someone is on your toes, you simply stop for a moment and let them go ahead. Mais non. I nearly killed somebody that day as I came into the wall passing one flailing backstroker and another, directly ahead of her, reached the end of the pool on the extreme right side of the lane, and pushed, blindly, across my prow in the center. We only smacked hands: a miracle. She stopped and looked at me like I had assaulted her person. “Pardon,” I said, as she looked away, pushing off into the waves like a seaborne filing cabinet.


    I bought a pack of ten passes, but didn’t quite use them all. It got to be too frustrating. So now I’m home and working my way back into training. It was a lovely time–truly, an inexhaustible city–but I can hardly express how happy I am to be back in my home pool!

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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    I'm glad I wasn't the only one who found the Paris swimming scene a challenge! I swam at the Pompidou Center pool a number of times. As a petite female, I found it rather like a rugby match, but I was still swimming. The real treat was the neighborhood pool in the 4me arrondissement. It was a 25m pool with 6 lanes. Each lane had a minimum of 20 bodies in it. Swimming was never an option. It was an education in the culture. When in Paris......hope you enjoyed the other many wonders of The City of Lights!

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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    For future reference, the 50 m. pool I swam at last year, Piscine Blomet in the 15th, has a master's team that meets at 7 a.m., when the pool first opens, several mornings a week. They have their own lane and a coach on deck. The language of instruction is French, but the team has a number of expats who speak English. Not sure if they accept drop-ins, but it wouldn't hurt to inquire. The whole experience seemed pretty much what you'd expect here at home. I was very jealous, swimming in the next lane with all the usual suspects.

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in Paris?

    Red60, I was reliving my experiences through your description of the Piscine Pontoise...shudder. During my one and only swim in that pool, I was actually chased down by the macho of the 'fast lane' when I dared to do a flipturn as he was lounging at the wall, taking up the entire space. He tried to grab my ankle and force me to stop so he could scream at me, but when I refused to stop he swam furiously after me in a rage. Although I was faster than he was, I was worried about what would happen when I reached the other end of the pool, so I stopped mid-swim and tried to duck under the lane lines to get out of the pool as he again tried to grab me. My dad jumped onto the pool deck from the lower balcony where he was standing and called the lifeguard for help!! I never went back there again....Oh, the stories from those pools!!

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