Paris Tips: Keeping Cool at the Wallace Fountains

Hot and Hazy Days at the Jardin des Tuileries Photos by Theadora Brack

BYOB to the Jardin des Tuileries

By Theadora Brack

Feeling all parched while you’re out and about in Paris? What to do? What to do? Follow my lead. I’ve got you covered!

Fortunately, there are 108 historic “fontaines Wallace“ and three functional “puits artésien” (artesian wells). Situated around the city’s busiest squares and at intersections in each arrondissement, the drinking water is free for sipping.

So grab an empty bottle!

Meet Sir Richard Wallace

Rewind! “Les fontaines Wallace” were named after the British philanthropist and art collector Sir Richard Wallace, who generously financed the installation of 50 fountains throughout Paris after the Franco-Prussian War left the city with almost no clean drinking water.

Get misty at Place des Abbesses

Brasserie des quatre femmes

Designed by Charles-Auguste Lebourg, these cast iron fountains in four versions remain iconic darlings of the Paris streetscape. Uniformly painted a deep emerald green, they’re easy to spot.

The largest model, nicknamed the “Brasserie des quatre femmes” (brewery of the four women), flaunts four fetching caryatids, symbolizing kindness, simplicity, charity, and sobriety. Curvacious stunners, the figures are draped in sinuous tunics that are pinned just-so to reveal a handsome knee. Oh, la la!

Fountain of Youth

My favorite “puit artésien” in Paris is located in Butte-aux-Cailles (Quail Hill) at Place Paul-Verlaine in the 13th arrondissement. This historic well has been gushing forth since 1866. It’s definitely worth a sip. My actor friend Nausicaa calls it her “fountain of youth.”

Tip! After topping off your bottle, check out the surrounding hilly, cobblestoned neighborhood. Once an infamous red light district (quail was slang for prostitute), Butte-aux-Cailles now offers an impressive number of cheap eats, bars, and shops. Hello, time travel.

Finally, here’s a cinematic tidbit: In the 2001 film “The fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain,” Amélie’s concierge in Abbesses was named “Madeleine Wallace” because she cried like a Wallace fountain!

Clipping from Francophile Ben Franklin, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water, my friend.” Bottoms up!

Early Sunday Morning at Place des Abbesses

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50 thoughts on “Paris Tips: Keeping Cool at the Wallace Fountains

      • Thanks for taking a look. I will have another whale posting soon. Saw 5 Gray Whales today :-) Will have to keep a note on some of these Paris destinations, hope to return there this year for the first time since 1994!

  1. Oh that we all could drink at the fountain of youth. Perhaps to dribble it over ones face and watch the wrinkles disappear. A refrshing post Miss Theadora. Virginia

    • Merci, Virginia! Well, I believe in the powers of the “puits artesian.” Perhaps Oswald the rabbit has frolicked at the magical fountain in hilly Butte-aux-Cailles?! Theadora

      • Oswald is the kind of rabbit that knows where all the secret natural springs are in France. And… he does spend a great deal of time in the Left Bank. I do believe you have discovered his secret of eternal youth. Virginia

    • Merci!! As always, thanks for your thoughtful words! Enjoy the weekend, Theadora (It was a fun post to create. I’m now obsessed with the Wallace Fountains. What’s next? Perhaps the rather handsome Morris Columns?!)

  2. There’s a Wallace Fountain in the “place” in front of my apartment; I love these! Please check out my parisbycellphone.com blog today as I’ll be posting a photo of a statue in the Louvre that bears a striking resemblance to the caryatids and I wonder which design came first!

    • Hi Paul! Interesting! I’ve always loved Germain Pilon’s “Three Graces.” Pilon was Catherine de Medici’s favorite sculptor. I checked out your “Monument Monday: The Bastille and Three Graces with Heart” post. What dreamy shots! Your photograph of the Wallace Fountain is lovely. And they’re not easy to shoot! Theadora

      Off now to spend more time with Germain Pilon and Charles-Auguste Lebourg. Great food for thought! Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi spent a great deal of time at the Louvre. Thanks for adding a little mystery!

  3. Pingback: 2012-04-16 Monument Monday: The Bastille & Three Graces With Heart « Paris By Cell Phone

  4. You’re making me want to fast forward to summer with these post and pictures, Theadora. It is terribly cold and wet here in Holland at the moment that I even have to dig out my winter coat again.

    I remember being in Paris at the height of summer and it was so hot that I even took my shoes off and waded through the fountains of the Louvre to freshen up my tired feet. ;-)

  5. Bronzed statues, bronzed players, bronze wells . . . makes me want to head to a bronzage studio next time I’m in Paris! The fountains are refreshing–as are your images of them . . .

    • Yes! Funny! Perhaps I should create a post about the free “Powder Rooms” in Paris?! Theadora The new “luxury” WCs at the Louvre and Printemps are beauties. One euro buys you private seating in a water closet lit by rose-colored lights, and handsomely stocked with shocking fluorescent toilet tissues in pinks, greens, and blues. Oh, la la! Theadora

      • “Free Powder Rooms in Paris” has a definite (free) ring to it. I’d say “Go for it”, but that might not sound quite right. :-) The luxury WCs, though, sound like they’d be worth the investment. Oh, la, la, indeed!

  6. Be still my heart. Those “hotties” in the Jardin des Tuil. Yes, I need one of the fountains to “cool” me off. Tom

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