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The Lifesaving Wallace Fountains

Published on July 15, 2015 by Ralph and Karen

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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.

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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.

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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.

Thanks, Wallace!

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Wallace Fountain at 42 Blvd Rochechouart - via Montmartre Addict
 

 

Meet The Author
Hello! We are Ralph and Karen, an Anglo-American couple who fell in love with Paris and France over 20 years ago. Work-related trips brought us here, but we kept coming back for holidays, then extended visits, and then… In 2005, we decided nothing was stopping us from buying a place of our own in Paris. Lots of research, learning, and many kilometers of sneaker-rubber later, we put our house in the United States on the market. It sold in 10 days, and we found our apartment in Montmartre two months later. After a massive, year-long renovation project and its many challenges, we hit our biggest bump yet. As it turned out, we had to stay based in the US after all. Our lovingly remodeled apartment in Paris became a place where we returned only for short visits. In 2008, we started renting to guests—travelers like we once were (we always preferred apartments over expensive, cramped hotels). And the rest, as they say, is history. Le Trésor de Montmartre has proved quite popular, to the extent that we have trouble finding a break in the booking calendar to stay there ourselves! In the midst of this, we found Nice. After several holidays in and around Nice, we thought, why not buy a pied-à-terre in the area? Despite the challenges involved in renovating from afar—which we knew very well at that point—we jumped in again in late 2010. After another renovation, another year, and hundreds more gray hairs between us, we added Le Trésor de Nice to our rental portfolio. A year so so later we picked up 3 other apartment to manage. We hope you find the properties inviting, and hope even more that you will come see them for yourselves! Please get in touch with questions, or to book your stay at one of our apartments. We’d be happy to share our insider knowledge of these places we love so much.
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