For someone as deeply in love with swimming pools as I am, this museum is heaven. It is situated in the heart of an old Art Deco pool and looks simply spectacular.
La Piscine was conceived in 1927 as a present to the people of Roubaix, a palace to celebrate hygiene and wellness. The poor living standards of the industrial city’s workers and their families was no secret to the wealthy factory owners, as was the need to keep them at bay. Their answer to this problem was La Piscine, considered a place where all were equal. To that end, the “refectoire des nageurs” – fancy word for “cafeteria”- featured a hairdressing salon, mani-pedi corner, steam baths and an industrial launderette. The Olympic pool and its surroundings were known as the most beautiful and luxurious in France back in the days. In 1985 however, its doors had to close due to flaws to the roof structure.
Nowadays, it acts as a museum that celebrates democracy and makes no difference between Applied Arts and Fine Arts, featuring both ceramics from the likes of Picasso and sketches of lesser-known local artists. To be honest, I wasn’t really in awe by the collection, but the mix of art and the incredible scenery is one-of-a-kind. This is great visit for kids too by the way, as they will be able to marvel at funny paintings, marble statues (all lined up along the pool, they are the coolest!), sculptures and anything in between.
Also, all museum shops are awesome, but La Piscine’s is glorious!
Tip: Roubaix is only a stone throw away from the medieval city of Lille, combine both into a great day trip.