The Lifesaving Wallace Fountains
Walace Fountains at Place des Abbesses - via Montmartre Addict
Think you know all the famous symbols of Paris? The Eiffel Towel, the Arc de Triomphe, the Siene reflecting the city lights, a warm croissant on a delicate plate…
Well, here’s another, smaller but equally iconic, Parisian symbol that deserves a place on the list: The Wallace Fountains.
If you’ve visited Paris, you’ve likely seen, or maybe even sipped from, these intricate, cast-iron water fountains. There are now over a hundred of them here in Paris, and they remain a lifesaving feature for the city’s homeless population [not to mention everyday thirsty Parisians]—just as they were when they were first installed some 120 years ago.
Wallace Fountain at Place Emile Goudeau - via Montmartre Addict
The Wallace Fountains are like a lot of things in Paris: they’re beautiful and they have a story to tell. Here in the City of Light, even the drinking fountains have layers of meaning and symbolism.
The Wallace Fountains Story, In Brief:
The devastation following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 gave rise to a trend of bourgeoisie philanthropy. One of those generous and fashion-following souls was Sir Richard Wallace (who inherited his massive fortune...and spent a lot of it on resuscitating Paris).
From the (very lovely) Bonjour Paris travel website:
“The damage of many of the city’s aqueducts meant that the price of water, already expensive, rose considerably leaving many poor without adequate access to clean water. It was feared that problems such as this combined with low moral would lead many to alcoholism. In an attempt to prevent this, Wallace designed and funded some 50 fountains, providing all with access to free drinking water.”
And being that it was 19th century France, the drinking fountains were an elaborate, artistic affair. In fact, these designs were from Wallace’s own sketches. They were then brought to life by the sculptor Charles-Auguste Lebourg.
Wallace Fountain at Rue Saint-Eleuthère - via Montmartre Addict
If you’re planning a trip to Paris, pay keen attention for these blue-green beauties. Most likely, you will spot them without having to try. But if you do wish to seek them out, click over to Monmartre Addict for a map and list of Montmartre’s own Wallace Fountains.
Coming upon them will surely brighten your day…and, if need be, quench your thirst on these hottest days of summer.
Wallace Fountain at 42 Blvd Rochechouart - via Montmartre Addict