I recently saw Ang Lee's magical realist adventure "Life of Pi", based on the book by French Canadian author Yann Martel. While I enjoyed the sumptuous and surreal 3D renderings of tigers and whales, I was more charmed by the protagonist's backstory, in no small part because it has a Paris hook.
A young and brilliant Indian boy living in colonial-era Pondicherry, Piscine Molitor Patel, is named by his Francophile father after an eponymous Art Nouveau swimming pool in Paris's 16th arrondissement. The film included scenes of the pool in a retro guise circa 1950-something, and after leaving the theatre, I couldn't help wondering what had become of the place.
As it turns out, the now-iconic pool, opened in 1929, is soon to have a comeback, with major renovations underway and a scheduled re-opening in 2014. After falling into disuse and closed in 1989, the gorgeous but badly dilapidated art nouveau complex was nearly torn down, but protests led to it becoming deemed a city historical monument. It's being restored to its former glory (pic) after being plastered with graffiti-- condolences to those who appreciated its potential value as "street art"-- and will include an adjoining health spa, four-star hotel, restaurants, and shopping. The box-office success of Lee's "Pi" will no doubt draw curious tourists back to the Piscine Molitor and mark its revival as official.