Location maps of free drinking water fountains in Paris
Many people ask if the water in Paris is drinkable, and the answer is a most definite yes, as there are hundreds of free drinking water points dotted throughout the city including the traditional Wallace Fountains and even sparkling water fountains, with the map below showing where these are located.
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Origins of the Drinkable Water Fountains
Back in the 1800s after the Franco-Prussian War and then the Paris Commune when the city was under siege, fresh drinking water became in short supply and was exceedingly expensive, meaning the poor were turning to alcohol that was cheaper to drink.
So, an English philanthropist called Richard Wallace, who was a Parisian at heart, decided to do something about the situation and came up with the idea of water fountains, which he designed and financed, and in conjunction with the city of Paris, these were put in strategic places all over Paris.
Now these are well over 100 years old, becoming referred to as Wallace Fountains and small forgettable monuments, yet the tradition has continued, providing a great legacy for Sir Richard Wallace, along with being a lifeline for the homeless and those in need, although not every green fountain is a Wallace Fountain as you will find out later.
Bottled Water and the Environment
Over the years the City of Paris have installed many additional water fountains, all utilising drinking water the same as you would get out of your tap, yet in more recent years, the trend for drinking bottled water has become a lifestyle choice for many, as a supposed healthier option to normal tap water.
In fact, Europe have been the leading consumers of bottled water for over a decade with statistics showing Italy with the highest consumption, followed by Germany, Hungary and then France. According to statistics from both 2013 and 2015, this is the same trend, although Belgium was fourth in 2016 and France was fifth when working on per capita consumption.
France and especially Paris have been trying to get people back to using tap water, or fresh drinkable water from a fountain, in order to help save the environment rather than continually purchasing bottled water, because plastic bottles take hundreds of years to degrade and have become a global environmental issue affecting wildlife and marine life.
About the Drinkable Water Points and Wallace Fountains in Paris
As we mentioned earlier, the City of Paris have continued to install additional fresh drinkable water points, which are mainly found around the tourist attractions and in prominent areas of the city, becoming a common site within the numerous parks and gardens, often with the traditional emblem of the city that has been used since the 12th century.
In fact, there are well over 700 drinking water fountains, which reach to the outskirts of the city to the Boulevard Peripherique, but these can also be found in the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes areas, and now some of the points provide free sparkling water, as well as normal mineral water.
So although there are the very fancy large model Wallace Fountains that can still be found within places such as the Jardins des Champs Elysees, the small push button version is the most common to be found in Paris, yet there are several other types of drinking water points in Paris as well, which you can find out more about below, just do not forget your own bottle to refill!
However, we would like to point out that due to the risk of damage from freezing during the winter months, the drinking water points are only operational between approximately mid March through to mid November, but again, this is dependent upon the weather conditions.
In addition to this, the word for drinkable in French is Potable and the word for water Eau, so you will often see just one or both words on a plaque on the fountains that you come across, just bear in mind that the ornamental fountains found throughout the city do not have drinkable water.
The Borne Fontaines
Claude-Philbert Barthelot of Rambuteau was a director under Napoleon Bonaparte, then he became Prefect of the Seine under King Louis Philippe, and being a hygienist theorist he modernised much of Paris including the sewage and water works, also implementing many more fountains called Borne Fountains.
Eventually the fountains became a standardised model, which was based upon the push button style of the Wallace Fountains, and by the 1830s there were hundreds in operation, however, today there are only around 20 of the original style of Borne Fontaines remaining in the city of Paris.
La Petillante Sparkling Water Fountain
The original concept of the Maison de l’Eau comes from Italy where it is known as a Casa de Acqua, which produces sparkling water and this country has over 200 of these, yet the Petillante was first introduced to Paris, the capital city of France in 2010, where it was inaugurated within the Jardin de Reuilly in the 12th Arrondissement.
Looking like a wooden kiosk to blend in with the surroundings, there are a total of six faucets, two providing normal water, two providing water cooled to a temperature of 7 degrees C and the remaining two providing sparkling water, which is obtained by the addition of the gas CO2.
In addition to the kiosk Fontaine Petillante at the Jardin de Reuilly, you will also find these particular water fountains located within the Parc Andre Citroen in the 15th Arrondissement, the Jardin d'Ecole in the 18th Arrondissement and in front of offices of the Eau de Paris at 19 Rue Neuve-Tolbiac in the 13th Arrondissement.
Additional Petillante fountains have also been installed on the Quai Anatole France in the 7th Arrondissement close to the Pont de la Concorde, at the Square Severine in the 20th Arrondissement and at the Parc Martin Luther King in the 17th Arrondissement of Paris, with more envisioned in the future, such as at the Jardin Tino Rossi in the 5th Arrondissement.
So from bubbly to tap, if you fancy some sparkling water or just refreshing cooled water, then these modern water point kiosks are a great option that the City of Paris provide free of charge.
Les Fontaines du Millenaire
It was decided by the City of Paris that a competition would be run for the design of a new style of drinkable water fountain to celebrate the year 2000 and after much deliberation the Radi Designers Agency was chosen for the project with a design for a contemporary fountain looking like human silhouetted figures.
Called Les Fontaines du Millenaire, which translates in English to The Fountains of the Millennium, they also have a nickname of the Water Carriers with the figures joined but in a metamorphic effect as though the arm detaches as a gesture to offer water to the passerby.
You will actually find that there are four of these Millennium Fountains installed throughout the city, which are pin pointed on the map of water points and these can be found on the Parvis of Notre Dame Cathedral in the 4th Arrondissement, at Place Saint-Michel in the 6th Arrondissement, on the Quai Francois-Mauriac at the foot of the Biblioteque Francois Mitterrand in the 13th Arrondissement and on the Place de la Garenne in the 14th Arrondissement.
Les Fontaines Arceau
Due to benchmarks put in place for health needs of traders and visitors to the markets in Paris, the Arceau Fountains were designed in a modern and stylish, yet health conscious and practical way where the water comes out in an arc shape easily obtained by a person standing next to it, without causing splashes or contamination.
Made of aluminium and stainless steel with the water being distributed by a sanitary tube, it automatically rises through a ring angled towards the drinker so this automatically avoids waste, plus the stainless steel bung prevents splashes and these are at an ergonomic height.
However, there is a secondary point further down on the Fontaines Arceau for those with reduced mobility or children, meaning this can also be used for filling water bottles or washing your hands as well. Plus with the traditional green, including that of the markets, these particular Fontaines Arceau have also been chosen to pay tribute to the original Wallace Fountains, with a legacy continuing.
Les Poings d'Eau
With the course of the Tramway T3 from the Port d'Ivry to the Port de la Chapelle, there were 19 different projects realised, including the design of some new water fountains, which were created by the artist Pascale Marthine Tayou.
Les Poings d'Eau translates in English to The Fists of Water and the water actually comes from a fist spouting out from the structure, which was modelled on the artist’s own fist. There are five of these in total that were inaugurated in the October of 2012 and can be found in the 20th Arrondissement of Paris by the Porte de Montreuil, the Metro station of the same name and the Tramway stops close by.
Les Fontaines a l'Albien
The Paris geological basin contains a vast amount of underground water that is known as the Albian and these reserves of drinking water were what prompted the drilling of artesian wells during the time that Claude-Philbert Barthelot of Rambuteau was Prefect of the Seine under the reign of King Louis Philippe.
The first artesian well to be drilled was called Le Puits de Grenelle, with several other wells to follow and although the original one is no longer in existence, five have now been restored, with three of these now having drinking water fountains, hence the name of Fontaines a l'Albien.
So you will be able to find the artesian Albian Fountains at the Place Verlaine in the 13th Arrondissement, Square Lamartine in the 16th Arrondissement and the Square de la Madone in the 18th Arrondissement.
Les Fontaines Totem
The original idea was to have some mobile drinking water fountains that could be set up for different events that are organised in Paris, with these having four push button outlets for the water, which were designed for masses of people, and due to their design they were named a Totem Fountain.
Being durable in stainless steel, with valves designed for frequent use and easy to repair, it was decided that one of these would be permanently put in place at the square in front of the Hotel de Ville, however over time several more have been put in place along the River Seine, just as you will see from the map of water points above.
So the legacy of Sir Richard Wallace that instigated the first drinking water fountains is still continuing to this day for the benefit of everyone, whether it be the locals or tourists who are on holiday in the incredible city of Paris.