Molitor, a Parisian establishment for 90 years
Inaugurated in 1929, Molitor was for 60 years the most popular swimming pool in Paris for its two pools and its avant-garde atmosphere.
Closed in 1989 and listed as a historical monument, the place is taken over by artists and the dilapidated building becomes the temple of the Parisian underground.
Scalable and daring, Molitor welcomed those who wanted to share extraordinary moments. Together, they made the soul of Molitor and built a legacy that begs to be passed on.
1st CHAPTER: 1929-1989
Once upon a time in the west of Paris, there was the birth of an extraordinary building. A simple triangle of concrete that surrounded a place where Parisians could swim all year round, skate, play golf, play sports, sunbathe and meet up.
It was in 1929 that “La Piscine Molitor Grands Etablissements Balnéaires d'Auteuil” opened its doors to complete the huge sports center that was being set up in the 16th arrondissement with the Parc des Princes, the Stade Jean Bouin and Roland Garros. And to anchor the Molitor swimming pools in a sporting context, Johnny Weissmuller, five-time Olympic medalist, will be called up for the inauguration and will act as lifeguard during the summer of 1929.
But the Molitor swimming pool quickly freed itself from its primary destination to become a place of meetings and events: the artists' gala in 1931, from 1934 “La Fête de l'Eau” elects the prettiest bather every summer; without counting on the restaurants, bar-tobacco and hairdressing salon which surround this swimming pool of a different kind.
The winter pool is a faithful reproduction of the original pool designed by Lucien Pollet, the architect of Molitor. He had his office just to the right of the original entrance to the winter pool, now the entrance to Villa Molitor.
In the blue cabins the bathers changed and left their personal effects. Their initials were written in chalk by the cabin boy.
“It was definitely my favorite period of my life. The atmosphere was wonderful, we worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the understanding was perfect in our team (...). There were a lot of regulars who came in the morning to book their cabins (always the same). Our working tool was the key to opening the cabins; mine, Molitor's, I kept it as a souvenir. We were so used to it that when we knocked on the door, “tac-tac”, we recognized by sound if there were clothes inside or if the cabin was free. ”
Souvenirs of Dominique Thomas, cabin boy in Molitor, extract from the book MOLITOR The pools and the ice rink by Claude Weill.
The decline of the Molitor swimming pool began in 1970 with the definitive closure of the ice rink which replaced the outdoor pool in winter. This activity offered to Parisians required 1 and a half months of work for its implementation, over barely five months of operation. The financial losses were considerable.
Then came the water filtration system that no longer worked properly, the concrete damaged by chlorine fumes since 1929 and the glass roof of the winter pool to be redone ... The report by architect Jean-Paul Philippon draws up a deplorable finding. The work necessary to restore the swimming pool requires the extension of the lease and the renegotiation of the operating rights by the Molitor swimming pool management. The City of Paris will refuse to follow up. It was in 1989, on the official lease expiry date, that the Management handed over the keys to the Molitor swimming pool to the Town Hall, which closed the doors of the establishment for an indefinite period.
2nd CHAPTER: 1989-2014
Admittedly, the Molitor swimming pool has closed its doors but they will reopen, without their knowledge, because an abandoned building in Paris is never completely abandoned.
The graffiti first appeared on the exterior walls of Molitor, then on the railings, the basins emptied of their water and after ten years, new colors brought the dilapidated building back to life. These are the first tags of some street artists recognized today by the general public and for all a huge open-air workshop. Many photographers freeze the ephemeral works of Reso, Shaka, Katre, Kashink, Jace, Kouka, Nosbé forever and the list would be far too long to list them all ...
The place also becomes a stage for shows, parties, fashion shows organized with the help of the Compagnie des Maîtres-Nageurs.
But the City of Paris has not completely forgotten Molitor. In 2007 it launched a call for candidates for the renovation and operation of the abandoned building. Colony Capital in association with Bouygues Construction and Accorhotels will win the call for tenders for the rehabilitation of Molitor with a project faithful to the architecture of the building and respect for its history.
Work began in 2011, the entire pool was destroyed because the structure and concrete were no longer strong enough to last longer. Only the rotunda, the entrance to 2 Avenue de la Porte de Molitor, could be spared.
The reproduction of Molitor's swimming pools will be faithful, many swimmers of the time recognize the shapes of the balustrades, the mosaics and the colors. The daughter of Lucien Pollet, architect of origin, who had lived in Molitor, was moved to note that practically nothing had changed of the winter basin that she had known, thus underlining the quality of the work of architects, historians and artisans of the project.
3rd CHAPTER: 2014 TO TODAY
Molitor reopens its doors on May 19, 2014.
The City of Paris concedes the operation of the building by the AccorHotels group and the Colony Capital company for a period of 54 years.
Molitor is no longer just a swimming pool.
It's a hotel 124 rooms and suites designed by the architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, also behind the redecoration of the Hôtel Dieu in Marseille, the Mélia hotel in La Défense and the Cures Marines in Trouville. All the rooms surround the summer pool with the impression of being in Molitor like on a liner.
It is also a restaurant, a bar, a rooftop open to all who offer seasonal dishes based on fresh products, made by the Chef and his team. On the pastry side, the homemade creations are a delight for the eyes and the palate.
There is also a Spa by Clarins of 1,700 m² with, in addition to its treatment rooms, a hammam, sauna, herbal tea room and reading room. The Molitor Club which, in addition to its sports facilities, offers group lessons and cultural activities all year round.
Finally, each visitor will be able to find the Street Art universe which is an integral part of Molitor's history through the works of the curiosity booths, those exhibited on the walls of the hotel lobby and those more hidden, in the detour of a corridor. Artists who knew Molitor during his period of abandonment are invited to come back and put their mark on the new building to echo the graffiti that covered the walls at that time.
Enter a cabin in the winter pool and immerse yourself in the world of Hopare, Katre, Jace, Artiste Ouvrier, Mademoiselle Maurice, Kouka, Bradley Theodore, Mosko & Associés, Balder, Indie 184, Fred Calmets, Shuck One and many others.
The history of Molitor continues to be written every day ...