Today’s exploit for our favourite dictionary: a quick plunge into Roubaix’s famous Piscine and no need for swimming trunks!
Roubaix’s pride and joy.
Roubaix may be penniless (it’s one of the poorest towns in France) but there’s no shortage of good ideas. Like the one of transforming a former art deco swimming pool from the 1930s into a museum, complete with its Olympic pool and public showers. Its greatest originality is the conservation of the main pool with its magnificent half-moon stained glass windows as the central feature with the museum’s exhibits: samples of woven cloth, sculptures and paintings, disposed around it. The changing cabins are no longer used to don your swimming costume but to admire the works of art from the XIX century. This daring project is the result of the meeting of two great minds: Bruno Gaudichon, current museum director and André Diligent, mayor of Roubaix at the time. In 1989, the historian and the local politician came up with the idea of housing the collection of the town’s manufacturing industry museum, created in 1835 to preserve samples from the textile industry, in the art-deco swimming pool. The latter had been closed in 1985 for safety reasons. Hence the name: “The André Diligent Art and Industry Museum”
Since opening, The Museum of Art and Industry has been undeniably successful. With 200,000 visitors every year and many favourable reviews, like the most recent one by the Journal des Arts classing it as the best museum in France for towns between 20,000 and 200,000 inhabitants. Or the seventh place attributed by France 2 in 2014 as one of the French’s favourite historical monuments. The chances are if you say “Roubaix” to a Parisian, the response will be “Ah yes, heard of the Piscine” (doesn’t work with the chief editor of Valeurs Actuelles).
By the way, if you actually want to swim in an art deco pool, head for Bruay-la-Buissière in the Pas-de-Calais. It’s one of the few classed as a historic monument. Only drawback, it’s in the open air: could be a bit chilly!
Translated by LoveDay Pollard and proofread by SafeTex
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