Swimming for Putney-Strasbourg

Swimming For Putney-Strasbourg

It starts with a great oak door, carved exquisitely with Celtic images. This opens into a shiny teak porch and then to an amphitheatre complete with Doric columns and Roman statues. A church, a conservatoire, a private school? Non, absolument, non. C’est le Bains Municipaux, Strasbourg. For someone who collects swimming pools, a penny black.

Between 1870 and 1918, newly regained Strasbourg was the pride of the burgeoning German Empire. The old medieval city was added to in the most up to date Art Nouveau style. Masterminded by architect Fritz Beblo a University, a train station, a new town,Strasbourg became the modern city of today.In 1908 Le Bains were built.

As the blurb states,”Il constitute un bijou architectural de la Neustadt”. This was state of the art, ornamental ceilings, stained glass, two pools complete with fountain heads, showers, baths, Roman baths, hot rooms. With Prussian efficiency there were even facilities to wash dogs. The blurb states,the baths were “un veritable temple de l’hygiene”. The old style changing cubicles still surround the pool and the loos still have chains to pull.

The pool was a delightful forty minute ,via the cathedral, walk from my hotel,  near the station. However, the swim coudn’t live up to its setting. Curved deep end and Roman style steps at the other ,restricted lane swimming which anyway was in only about a fifth of the pool. As elsewhere in Europe pools are used less for fitness and more for keeping the old alive. Pourquoi Pas? Strasburg has   modern pools elsewhere, but they were not built to honour the Hohenzollerns and the Second Riech.


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