Abandoned ‘Life of Pi’ Art Deco Pool in Paris, Revived

Pool Being RenovatedMany know Piscine Molitor as the grandiose public swimming pool in Paris that gave the main character in the novel-turned-movie Life of Pi his name. Apart from its appearance in Yann Martel’s book, however, the Art Deco pool was also an iconic place for Parisians.

After its closing, the once-extravagant pool served as a park for bikers and skaters. In 2007 the architectural group Colony Capital-Accor-Bouygues started renovating the pool, and in 2014, it reopened with a modern splendor.

Piscine Molitor in 1929

Piscine Molitor was popular among celebrities back in the day. It opened in 1929, with Olympic swimmers Johnny Weismuller and Riggin Soule leading its inauguration. Its first lifeguard, meanwhile, went on to star in the first ever Tarzan film.

It was the prime destination for fashion shows and theater performances, and in the winter, they convert it into a rink for figure skating competitions. It was also in Piscine Molitor where the first bikini debuted in 1946, and where the topless sunbathing revolution took off.

As Preferred Pool and Spa notes, the pool was such an iconic place. According to the President of SOS Piscine Molitor, Frédéric Maynier, “You didn't go there just to swim, you went to be seen.”

The pool, however, closed in 1989 and while the French government declared Piscine Molitor a National Heritage Site, it fell into disrepair and became a site for street and graffiti art.

Revived with a Modern Twist

After the 7-year renovation period, Piscine Molitor is now the MGallery Hotel. The original planner, Lucien Pollet, integrated plenty of modern design elements and retained some of its existing street art aesthetic. One part of the original façade remained, and the designers wanted many original features refurbished instead of replaced.

According to the designer Jean-Phillipe Nuel, their approach to designing the interior of the new Molitor was "to look at the pool like a character with many histories, many cultures — a birth in 1929 and today, a certain maturity."