BORN IN 1929 – THE BLACK AND WHITE YEARS
The iconic Parisian Molitor is steeped in history since its birth in the summer of 1929, when Olympic athlete Johnny Weismuller, who was a lifeguard in his spare time, officially opened Piscine Molitor. For 60 years it served as the best swimming spot for Parisians (housing both an indoor and olympic-level open air pool). No ordinary pool, it was the place to be seen, buzzing with energy and hosting fashion shows, theatrical performances and galas. In 1946 it presented the unveiling of the first bikini, designed by Louis Réard and modelled by the Casino de Paris dancer Micheline Bernardini. In the winter time it was transformed into an ice rink until the early 1970s. It was adorned with Art Deco stained glass by Louis Barillet, surrounded by three levels of cabins, resembling an ocean liner and nicknamed the ‘white cruise liner’ and you can see why, with its gleaming white rails and porthole windows. The complex ultimately closed in 1989, 60 years after its inauguration and was listed as a historical monument.
THE UNDERGROUND YEARS – A SECOND LIFE
Whilst developers pondered over the future of the complex, Molitor attracted an underground crowd of graffiti artists, skate boarders and ravers. Local residents started to protest against the art-deco classic becoming an eyesore, and the community association SOS-Molitor, which in 1994 became Piscines Molitor, fought for the rebuilding of the swimming pools. However, in 2007, the Mayor of Paris chose the architectural group Colony Capital-Accor-Bouygues to renovate the iconic site and a 54-year lease was issued to them.
REBIRTH – CONCEPT: ART – POOL – LIFE
After a beautiful facelift the Molitor is restored to its former glory, reopening its doors on Monday the 19th of May 2014. It is now a 124-room MGallery hotel with Clarins spa, gym, bar and restaurant. Unfortunately, that means the general public don’t have access to the pools unless they are residents at the hotel or are health club member. This summer we spent two nights as press to experience the colourful Molitor for ourselves. The timing was during a heat wave in Paris, and therefore the only place to be was either cooling down in the outdoor pool, or people watching from one of their large day beds. There were indoor and outdoor water fitness classes that you could participate in and were also fun to watch. One major disappointment was their ‘Wellbeing’ pool bar that was overpriced with a limited selection of salads. It would be the perfect place to serve healthy and fresh juices and smoothies.
The interior is in the words of designer Jean-Phillipe Nuel, ”tries to conserve the dialogue between past and present”, with many original features being refurbished or given a modern spin; for example in the lobby stands a classic Rolls Royce tagged by graffiti artist Jon One.
The rooms are modern and minimalistic in design, the best feature being a porthole circular window looking out outdoor pool, another great spectator spot for the pool theatre! Each room also has a lithograph created for Molitor by artists involved in the revamp.
The 33-metre indoor pool lined with its original cabins, each now a self-contained exhibit by a contemporary artist.
The rooftop cocktail bar and restaurant is impressive, with its own herb garden and panoramic 360 degree views stretching to the magnificent Eiffel Tower and offering a birds eye view over the pool. In the evening, the Eiffel tower isn’t the only star of the show, as the pool lights change colours as if in unison with one another.
My favourite part, the Spa! Offering the ultimate relaxation indulgence with huge his and hers steam rooms, sauna, a wave dream room, hair dressers and 13 treatment rooms. The focus in on positive energy and wellbeing taking centre stage and offers wellness rituals including “Wellness by Clarins” that comes in eight variations: detox, slimming, serenity, sport, beauty, posture, Mummy, and Ado Zen. Each procedure is tailor-made to the customer’s needs and is split up into three sections, starting with a practitioner session of your choice. Choose from a posturologist, a psycho-nutritionist, a neuro-coach or a physiotherapist before a bracing fitness session of either watersports, fitness, cardio, chi chong, yoga or pilates, followed finally by a relaxing face or body massage. Launched this summer, they are now offering retreats and healthy detox programs, aimed at the wellness traveller.
The Molitor hasn’t forgotten where it came from and when you hear about the history and metamorphosis you can feel it and become a spectator, hypnotised by the bright and buzzing new life it has take on. Long live the beloved Molitor! BOOK NOW. For more tips on wellness travel and recommendations on spa resort follow me on @soulseedtravel.