When I travel, I like to find local swimming facilities. The oddest — and most charming — pool was Piscine DELIGNY, a floating barge that contained a swimming pool(!), on the River Seine in Paris.
I’d guess that the pool was about 25 meters long by 15 meters wide. It was surrounded by two decks of private changing rooms. This superstructure hid the pool from the outside world and gave the pool and surrounding pool deck a cozy private atmosphere.
There was even a unique “ski nautique” concession: a speedy winch powered by a powerful electric motor would quickly pull a skier from one end of the pool to the other! It’s the oddest skiing contraption I’ve seen anywhere. The ski ride was fast but brief.
In the mid 1970s, while in Paris for a few days, I first found this unique pool. France — even rural France — has some great swimming venues, but this was unique.
This is the deck in La Piscine Deligny, Paris, 1975, perhaps the most glamorous public pool in history. It contained wood from a boat that transported the body of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was frequented, over the course of its 200-year life, by kings, by Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Errol Flynn. “Do you remember that day?” I ask sort of naively. Looking at Schlesinger’s photos, you tend to imagine a story lurking below the surface of each image. “Every day was like that,” he says, laughing. But of course.
Alas, nearly 20 years later, La Piscine mysteriously sank to the bottom of the Seine, never to be heard from again, so Schlesinger’s shot of its loungers, like all of the pictures in A Photographic Memory, offers a blissfully carefree record of a lost bohemia.
Deligny pool, or bath Deligny, a floating pool was open air on the Seine, moored on the left bank (Quai Anatole France, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris) since 1796. She included a restaurant and private dining rooms.
Deligny the pool was the place of the swimming events of the 1900 Olympics.
It was a popular place where you had to be seen.