Oh La La Piscine
I made my first trip to a French swimming pool on Friday, you wouldn't think swimming pools are that different country to country but it turns out they are!
For one, it's mandatory for everyone to wear a swimming cap, even boys! I guess it's supposed to make it cleaner, which is necessary as French swimming pools use far less chlorine than we do. You have to buy them from vending machines, and not make the mistake I did in assuming it was a one size fits all and having to squeeze my massive head into a child's swimming cap, although they are reasonably priced at €3 and they're material (and reusable!) which give you far less of a headache than the rubbery ones!
Also, swimming pools in Paris (well not all but most!) are waaaaaay cheaper. It cost us €3 each and you didn't have any silly coloured wristband that meant you had to get out an hour later, nope you could pay €3 and stay the whole day, 9am-9pm if you felt inclined, which in this sunny weather and with a retractable roof and sun loungers I might do one Sunday...
Although I was very confused by their reduced rate which was €1,70, I took the little boy I look after and asked for "un tarif reduit" et "un tarif plein" assuming, as a child he would be reduced. Nope. Students aren't either. In fact, I'm not really sure who qualifies for it but I can't really complain at €3 anyway!
When I asked for the tickets she did just reply "non" and I fully believed she just wasn't letting us buy tickets at all, so I asked her why she wouldn't let us swim, which she met with a very confused look and then just said "anglaise?" before explaining I'd have to pay full price for both. She was lovely though and directed me to the vending machine for swimming caps asking "vous avez assez?" (as in do you have enough money?) now I blame the loud noises but I thought she said "un assiette" (a plate) and so I stood there looking gormless. I'm pretty sure in her head she was thinking bloody English, I turned to the little boy I look after and asked "un assiette?" to which he nearly weed himself laughing and so did she, but who can blame them!
Oh, the signposting there though... well the lack of! I swear it took us a good 5 minutes to even find the changing rooms and then 10 minutes after that to find the pool... and it's not exactly a huge piscine! We were going round in circles, as the one sign they did have pointing to the swimming pool took you through to the showers and what looked like the adminstrative area so we looped along which took us to more showers! Turns out you did have to walk into what looked like the adminstrative area, and we found it eventually. Although finding it was more of a workout that the swim and when we kept walking in circles through the showers people started to look at us very strangely!
I promise, I'm not here to check you out again Pierre. Anyway, for a boy who can't swim and hates getting water in his eyes it all went rather swimmingly, and next time we'll be more prepared!