As I was visiting Lille, I often heard about an unmissable, a place I had to see called la piscine (the swimming pool in French). “What, you’re telling I have to go to a swimming pool!? But… Why? What’s so special about this swimming pool?” Then someone explained that it’s not a swimming pool, but a museum which was formerly a swimming pool. This piscine museum is not exactly located in Lille but a little further, in Roubaix. All right, let’s see la piscine museum in Roubaix!
History of la piscine museum
At the request of mayor of Roubaix Jean-Baptiste Lebasx, Lille architect Albert Baert was asked to construct the most beautiful swimming pool of France. He started in 1927 and the art deco swimming pool opened in 1932. At the time, Roubaix was a huge industrial center of Northern France, especially for textiles. Watching the decoration of the swimming pool, you could clearly see Roubaix was a thriving city. It was called “the city of a thousand chimneys”.
The main, central swimming pool was (and is still) illuminated by windows symbolizing the rising and setting of the sun. Moreover, the complex was built around a garden, like an abbey cloister. There wasn’t just a swimming pool but also showers, public baths, a laundromat, a salon and you could get a manicure and pedicure done.
At the time, this place was exceptional, the swimming pool was insane! Unfortunately, the swimming pool closed in 1985 due to security and maintenance problems (the roof could collapse anytime). The place closed but it was never destroyed.
Reopening of the piscine museum in Roubaix
Since the inhabitants of Roubaix were attached to this place, it was decided to renovate it. French architect Jean-Paul Phillipon took care of it from 1998 to 2001, and the place reopened in October 2001. This is not a swimming pool anymore, but a museum! Officially, its name is the André Diligent art and industry museum, but everybody calls it la piscine (the swimming pool).
La piscine museum in Roubaix
You get in the museum passing by the changing room, and you access the water basin passing by the showers. Then you can start the visit. In la piscine, you’ll find numerous collections of the 19th and 20th century. You’ll also find ceramic art including vases and figurines, and works by Picasso and Fernand Léger.
The former shower stalls are now display cases and small offices. In the former bathrooms, you’ll see painting collections of the 19th and 20th century. But also collections of contemporary art, fashion and design (Stark…), and temporary exhibitions. Take the time to stroll the wings of the former bathrooms.
The interior garden is inspired by the abbey cloisters and you’ll be able to admire beautiful plants. It’s a nice botanical garden and I recommend you to take the time to admire it.
Upstairs, discover a collection of textiles spanning from ancient history to modern times, as well as numerous accessories.
They recreated the Henri Bouchard atelier, don’t miss it! You’ll admire his sculptures. It really feels like you’re standing in his workplace and he can arrive anytime. Not far there are also works by Camille Claudel. In a room, you can touch the works of art, like a real sculptor would do it.
In this museum, you’ll find paintings, sculptures, textile, furnishings, ceramics, drawings and a lot more, all related to the textile industry. There are works by Rodin, Picasso, François Pompon and Charles Eames among others.
La piscine museum in Roubaix is really atypical, but visiting it gives you the opportunity to have a fascinating glimpse of northern France’s artistic and industrial heritage. No wonder it’s one of the most popular museums of France. Every year, it attracts about 250,000 visitors. If you go to Lille, don’t miss la piscine museum in Roubaix!
How to get to la piscine museum
The easiest way to get there is by subway. The closest subway station is Roubaix Grand Place (5 minutes away by foot). The Roubaix train station is not far either. Otherwise the address is 23 rue de l’espérance, Roubaix.
La piscine museum opening times
La piscine is open from 11am to 6pm Tuesday to Thursday, 11am to 8pm on Fridays, and from 1pm to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. There’s also a restaurant there, open from 12pm to 5:30pm. La piscine museum is closed on Mondays.
La piscine museum tickets
It’s 9 euros to get in. When there are exhibitions, it’s 11 euros to get in. If you go to la piscine museum during your visit to Lille, get the City Pass Lille. It allows you to enjoy dozens of tourist attractions in Lille, but you can also get in la piscine museum. Click here to buy it.
How long to visit la piscine museum
La piscine museum is not big. It will take less than two hours to visit. For your information, it’s possible to take a virtual visit to la piscine museum via their website.
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