The Art Deco masterpiece Piscine Molitor was built in 1929 to resemble an ocean liner. Surrounding the pool were three levels of cabins with round windows resembling portholes. The indoor pool became an ice rink in the winter and the decks of the outdoor pool were lined with sand. You didn’t go there just to swim, you went to be seen.
In 1946, the first modern bikini designed by Louis Réard was unveiled. The pool soon became a magnet for all things chic. Sunbathers would lounge among celebrities and starlets, stretched out in white deck chairs and very often topless.
Ultimately it was referred to as “les Grands Établissements Balnéaires d’Auteuil” (the Great Seaside Establishment of Auteuil) and became the site of various sporting events. Olympian Johnny Weissmuller was one of the first lifeguards.
By 1989, the pool was in decay and due to safety standards permanently boarded up by the city. Developers proposed to rebuild it as a hotel and parking lot. To the rescue, a group of citizens founded the “SOS Molitor”. They successfully halted demolition and in 1990 the Molitor was listed in the inventory of the French Monuments Historiques program. Sadly, vandalism and poor maintenance took its toll after being protected by the government (see above).
A new organization called Piscines Molitor was created to obtain funding for the rehabilitation of the site. In 2014, it reopened as a privately owned club adding a 124-room swanky hotel, spa and restaurant. The clientele is still the same well-heeled crowd. A day pass will run you around $245 and annual membership fees are $4,500. For guests of the hotel, daily fees are, of course, gratuit.
Molitor, 8 Avenue de la Porte Molitor, 75016 Paris
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