Finding great things to do in Paris during the summer isn’t easy. Parisians abandon the city, leaving it to the tourists, and it seems like all the best spots are closed — or are they?
For the past 15 years, the mayor has turned some areas along the Seine into pop up beaches, literally, with 5000 tons of sand, sunbrellas, and volleyball tournaments. Paris Plages runs every summer from July to September, and organizers have planned even more festival activities than usual.
But I’m in the mood for something… different. One of my friends always comes up with amazing ideas for things to do when she has family and friends in town. She kindly told me her secret. She relies on the coveted and confidential Paris expert Anne Muraro.
Anne Muraro is a French tour guide for celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Robert Downey Junior. When asked what she likes to do here in the summer, she laughs. “All my best bistros, all my favorite cafes, the major exhibits — all closed. Even the sorbetier Berthillon is closed in August! Imagine, you can’t even get good ice cream! For me it’s depressing.”
But when Anne stops laughing, she gives a thoughtful pause, and then suggestions spill from her like sprinkles from a cone of soft serve. “In the summer, it’s all about staying cool, and gardens, and rooftops,” she says.
The Coolest Pools to Stay Cool
Anne starts with a classic, Le Molitor (16th). This landmark, art deco hotel in the 16th arrondissement was built around two swanky swimming pools. Her idea to rent a room and hang out poolside all day sounds amazing, but maybe I forgot to mention the whole reason I’m stuck in the city is I’m (temporarily) BROKE!
So I do some checking. There is another, less expensive, way you can enjoy l’été at Le Molitor. If you book a one-hour appointment at their Clarins spa, you can add on the option of an hour or full day use of their facilities, including the pools. Score! (Be sure to confirm the details when making your RDV!)
But if I really want to stick to my minuscule budget, I do have some much cheaper choices. The city of Paris has about 38 public pools that cost less than the cost of a cappuccino in Trocadéro to use. Continuing with the art deco theme, there’s Piscine Pontoise (5th), on the edge of the Latin Quarter. While this one doesn’t have the most up-to-date facilities, it does have the charm of retro-style private changing cabins for rent.
There’s also the Piscine de la Butte aux Cailles (13th) in a 1920’s building, fed by an underground spring. For those days when I need more modern facilities, Piscine Les Halles-Suzanne Berlioux (1st), located in the shopping mall in the center of Paris is a great option. The popular Josephine Baker (13th) pool lets you swim and lounge right on the Seine River.
And when I’m a bit more serious about swimming rather than relaxing, I can always head over to the Eiffel Tower and the nearby Piscine Keller(15th). With 50 meter lanes and a retractable roof, I should be able to swim like I’m in the ocean.
The Coolest Pools Just Outside of Paris
The best compromise between the fabulousness of Le Molitor and the price point of the Paris public pools might be the Espace Aquaticin Neuilly-Sur-Seine. For 8€, you have access to several pools, including one with a sliding board, a jacuzzi and a garden for sunbathing.
As always with Paris pools, you’ll want to avoid the lunchtime and evening rush, and be sure to bring your own towel, goggles, swim cap, and shower shoes. It’s a good idea to check the hours online before you go and plan a recon visit to scope out the facilities and make sure you’re clear on the rules for usage, which can seem weird to non-locals (like the no-swim-trunks-allowed interdiction).
Photo: Trianon Palace
I should mention that Anne also had another fabulous suggestion if you’re desperate to escape the city, but can’t go far. Why not book a room at the Trianon Palace in Versailles? They have an indoor pool and outdoor sun deck. Their summer rates are less than 200€, there’s a free shuttle to and from Paris, and they are home to the Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay au Trianon restaurant. Not a bad option for a staycation.
More on Anne’s other mandates for a fabulous summer in Paris next time. Help us beat the heat and share some of your cool ideas with us below!