Paris is a great tourist destination, home to many of the world’s most famous buildings and monuments, but apart from Disneyland Paris it is not a city that lends itself to family holidays; unless you know where to look.
Aquaboulevard, an indoor water park, is not just the largest city-centre leisure pool of its type in France, but is actually the biggest in Europe; an ideal way to let the kids blow off some steam before they get dragged around the Louvre.
The Aquaboulevard Water Park is actually located within an even larger indoor sports complex where visitors can also try activities such as tennis and squash or make use of their gym facilities. Kids, however, will only have eyes for the huge leisure pool, complete with quite a selection of slides.
The temperature inside and in the water is maintained at a pleasant 29 degrees Celsius all year – after all Paris is a northern European city – but should you be lucky enough to visit on a hot summer’s day, the Aquaboulevard has an outdoor swimming area and even a man-made beach for sunbathing.
Situated in the suburban 15th Arrondissement there is plenty of parking available if you have brought your own car or hired one for the length of the holiday, otherwise Paris’ excellent public transport system can take you within walking distance of the complex, which is difficult to miss once you get to the area.
It is possible to just pay on the day for the water park or any of the other facilities, but if you are going to be in Paris for a while the complex does offer temporary memberships, which can help families save a bit of cash. The entry fee for Aquaboulevard is a fairly steep 25 euros, though it is easy to spend the whole day in and around the pool – and the longer you spend there, the more of a bargain the entrance cost seems. It would be helpful to have some spare change on hand for the lockers and lounger hire.
The pool itself is huge, thought it is not really designed for serious swimmers. There is a range of slides, from short ones in the infant’s pool to the Aqualoop and the Aquaturbo. The first is an 80-metre long slide, full of twists and turns, while the second is shorter and steeper and focuses more on speed, as the name suggests. Mum and Dad can always take it easy in the jacuzzi while the whole family will enjoy the wave machine which is turned on every half an hour to great excitement.
French swimming pools have quite strict rules about what swimwear has to be worn, with no bikinis for women and no loose shorts for men; swimming costumes and trunks only, and that goes for children too. Youngsters under the age of three are not allowed in the Aquaboulevard pool at all, while children under 12 have to be accompanied by an adult swimmer. Open every day of the week until 9pm at night, the complex does get very busy at weekends and on Wednesday afternoons when most French schools are closed.
Once you have built up an appetite in the pool, the complex is also home to a good selection of family restaurants, including one that overlooks the pool, where you can get a good quality snack or meal before heading back into Paris.
Alternatively you could always stay longer and go and see a film at the 14-screen cinema; many films in France are shown in their original English with French subtitles. If anyone has forgotten any kit there is a sports store on the site as well as a play area for children too young to get into the pool.