Let’s Go for a Swim


Exploring Santini Land – Issy-les-Moulineax

There are plenty of good reasons to go to Issy-les-Moulineax – the first reason being that it’s incredibly easy. Hop on the Mairie d’Issy Metro Line #12. Take it to the terminus and you’re there. Issy-les-Moulineax is ‘village life a la Parisienne’, that is, how it used to be. Not as ‘monied’ as Neuilly, rather ‘comfortable’ and relatively egalitarian in the sense that it’s a neighborhood that’s very happy to share its goodies with neighboring communities.

Take for example the swimming pool. Yesterday we took up Mark and Angelique’s invitation to go for a swim at the Forest Hills swimming pool – you might call it a private and public joint venture. Forest Hills has a fancy complex at Portes de Versailles, but the Forest Hills swimming pool is open to the public for 9 Euros per person (if you’re just walking in off the street). School kids from neighboring communities have access to this pool as part of their school exercise program. The pool is impeccable, not a whiff of chlorine – don’t know what they use as a substitute but it sure beats chlorine.

Aside from swimming lanes in the 35 meter pool, there’s an additional pool for water aerobics classes for which you have to sign up as early as three months in advance to have a place.

Going for a swim in a public swimming pool might demand a little adjustment to the ‘rules’ and the ‘suggestions’. First of all, regarding men’s swimwear: Men are expected to wear itsy bitsy clingy swimming gear – the kind of gear you might wear for triathelon swim meets. Bathing trunks are completely ‘interdit’. Women, on the other hand, should consider wearing a one-piece swimsuit rather than a two-piece – and forget about the string. Leave it in Miami.

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I forgot to mention that the 9 Euro admission fee allows you access to the Hammam and the dry sauna. You have lockers for which you need a 50 centime piece which is refundable when you reopen your locker. There are also lounge chairs for suntanning outdoors on sunny days, but the pool is undercover with skylights. The pool closes to the public to allow access for school kids and it does tend to close down relatively early on some afternoons so it’s wise to check out the hours in advance. We went from 12:30 to 1:30 pm and by 2 we were on our way to lunch at Casa Mario.

Casa Mario at 104, Boulevard Gallieni is a local pizzeria which is a great place to stop in after a swim. Aside from pizzas, they have delicious carpaccio, fried scampi and calamari, but best of all is dessert. You must not leave this restaurant without trying their Floating Islands or ‘iles flottantes’. These are the biggest, boldest floating islands I’ve seen anywhere which I think is a pretty good representation of what Issy les Moulineax is all about – big and bold – and yet an island separated by the peripherique (the belt that circles Paris) from the fury of Paris living.

Last but not least, you may even have the good fortune to spot Issy’s mayor, Andre Santini dining here (he has some other favorite restaurants in town as well). But he will be undoubtedly busier these days as President Sarkozy has named him to the post of Secretary of Public Works. An appointment well –deserved when one considers that Mayor Santini – so early in the electoral campaign had given his full support to Sarkozy. He is well deserving – no doubt – and then some.

Casa Mario
104 boulvd. Gallieni
Tel. 01 40 95 87 87
Metro: Mairie d’Issy

Forest Hill Piscine – Issy-les-Moulineaux
70 Blvd. Gallieni
Tel. 01 40 93 04 56 (Yes! They speak English!)

P.S. Don’t miss Wednesday Market Day! Right at the Mairie d’Issy Metro exit.