2022 is the fountains’ year in Paris! A walk around the historic Wallace fountains could not be enough on the occasion, so we thought looking for the most original ones could be far more interesting. As a matter of fact, the capital city counts up to 120 Wallace fountains and almost all look the same, so, after two or three, it gets boring. But there are some fountains that are extraordinary, colorful or very rare!
Facts about the Wallace Fountains
These fountains are a Parisian institution, public drinking water taps designed in the late 19th century by Charles-Auguste Lebourg and financed by Richard Wallace. There are some outside Paris, but they are more numerous in the city, in almost all neighborhoods and near landmarks, so much that they are part of the landscape. The most common model, with 95 fountains, measures 2.71-m (8.89ft) high, and made of green cast iron. The first one was set up in August 1872, boulevard de la Villette, and this year 2022 celebrates their 150th anniversary.
Two years before the fountains were installed, Paris is besieged during the French-Prussian war, leading to the destruction of the city’s infrastructures and a lack water supply in dramatic. During the reconstruction of the city, Sir Richard Wallace – a British philanthropist deeply attached to the city – gifts Parisians public fountains to assure continuous drinking water supply. Now, they enable people who need to to drink free potable water, from March 15 to November 15, every year.
Genuine works of art, the Wallace fountains are adorned with four caryatids, each embodying an allegory, Simplicity, Kindness, Sobriety and Charity. Their green color is explained by the will to add more nature to the city, and required to match urban furniture, such as booth stands and Morris columns.
There are three rarer models than the famous column, especially the wall-mounted fountain. There is only one model of this type left in Paris, at 59 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, at the left of the entrance to the Jardin des Plantes. In the middle of the pediment, the head of a naiad flows a stream of water into a bowl between two pilasters. This model – rather cheap to mount at that time – was to be mounted along the walls of public buildings, but this did not happen.
In 2011, Paris 13th arrondissement town hall git three very special Wallace fountains as they are very colorful! Instead of the traditional green, they are painted in yellow, red, blue, and pink! Colors depend on the locations in the neighborhoods, adding a few extra fun facts about these Wallace fountains blending in the background so much we tend to forget about them!
The Paris-Diderot college campus features a flaxen-yellow fountain for the Grands Moulins building is set right by. Set on the esplanade Pierre-Vidal-Naque, you can see it although you are not a student as access is open to everyone.
Within walking distance, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France is also home to a Wallace Fountaine, rue Jean-Anouilh, but covered in pink! It is said to be named after the Bibliothèque Rose, a famous children’s book collection created in 1856 by Hachette publishing house.
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In the Asian district, the same color as the arch signaling the entrance stands a red Wallace fountain, 66 avenue d’Ivry. The red color generally symbolizes Asia, good fortune and joy.
Last but not least, since 2014 stands on Place Pierre-Riboulet a blue Wallace fountain. Set in the middle of modern buildings, the fountain does not blend in the landscape at all but adds a bit of color to it. What is certain is you cannot miss it!
Note the entrance to the Parc des Expositions of the Porte de Versailles also features a red Wallace fountain. And there is a grey decorating fountain at the entrance to the Centre de Recherche et de Contrôle des Eaux de Paris, 156 avenue Paul-Vaillant-Couturier.
Shall we chase fountains, now, friends?
Dates and Opening Time
Starts 25 March 2022