Place Igor Stravinsky Square

This small square in Paris is situated by the Pompidou Centre and has modern fountains with moving parts and bright colours that delight the children, and it fits in well with its surroundings and the street performers that gather here.

About the Place Igor Stravinsky

IRCAM is a centre for research into acoustics and music, which is located by the Pompidou Centre and was constructed at the same time as the modern art museum and cultural centre of the Pompidou Centre.

And in fact, since this square in Paris is named after the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, it is quite fitting that the fountain and sculptures are actually above the some of the rooms and offices of IRCAM, which of course is linked to the Musee d’Art Modern and the Beaubourg, or Pompidou Centre as it is better known.
Place Igor Stravinsky water fountain basin
The Place Igor Stravinsky square was part of a large plan launched by the city of Paris to transform certain areas and produce some new public fountains, which would be the first ones constructed since the World Fair of 1937, which was when the Palais de Chaillot was constructed along with the fountains at the Trocadero Gardens.

It was in the October of 1981 when the mayor of Paris announced that a new fountain would be constructed by the Pompidou Centre, and that the artists, architects and sculptors Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle had been selected to create the sculptures for the fountain.

However, it was not until 16th March 1983 that the square and the fountains in Paris was inaugurated by the mayor, Jacques Chirac in the company of Madame Pompidou, the widow of President Georges Pompidou for which the cultural centre had been named after.

About the Igor Stravinsky Fountains and Sculptures

The idea was to have a fountain constructed that would be modern and in tune with the modern construction of the Pompidou Centre, which is often known as the inside out building due to the main workings such as ducting and lifts being visible with different colours on the outside.
Jean Tinguely works with black painted sculptures that are mechanical, whereas Niki de Saint Phalle works with brightly coloured designs for sculptures, and so you will find that there are a mix of the two different styles, but before work could even begin there were a few technical issues that had to be resolved.

To start with, because some of the IRCAM offices and rooms were located underneath where the fountain was to be located, it meant that the basin of water had to be shallow and the sculptures themselves had to be as light weight as possible.

Jean Tinguely also studied the Place Igor Stravinsky Square for approximately a year in all different weathers and seasons to figure out where the sun was, how the wind blew through the square, etc, and this determined where he wanted the sculptures and the orientation of the fountains.

He also wanted to ensure that the different colours and styles of the sculptures were representative of Igor Stravinsky and his music style, which was more towards that of circus or street performer style music, and hence why there is a sculpture of an elephant, a clowns hat, snake, the musical key of G and many others.
Jean Tinguely sculpture at Place Igor Stravinsky
Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture at Place Igor Stravinsky
There are also sculptures that portray love, life and the heart, a mermaid, etc and these are all constructed out of plastics and other lightweight materials for technical reasons, plus they are independent to the stainless steel bottom of the basin.

And as for the moving mechanical sculptures, these were designed by utilising extremely low power, so that the danger of electrocution could be avoided if anyone were to wade into the fountains.

So as you can no doubt tell, these modern kinetic sculptures are a popular tourist attraction in Paris, especially for children and are a great addition to the eye catching design of the modern art museum of the Pompidou centre, not forgetting that the Place Igor Stravinsky square is also popular with street artists.

Access to Place Igor Stravinsky

As we have mentioned before, this square with its modern and unusual fountains is located right by the Pompidou Centre and there are numerous different modes of public transport in Paris that can be utilised to get you close by.
Modern art water fountain at Place Igor Stravinsky
And this also means that there are many other monuments and tourist attractions located close by such as the Hotel de Ville, the historical Tour Saint Jacques Tower, Les Halles and the Fontaine des Innocents which is one of the oldest monumental fountains in Paris.

However, walking a little further and you will be at the River Seine where you can cross to the Ile de la Cite island and visit the Conciergerie and the Sainte Chapelle, or even the Notre Dame Cathedral at the opposite end of the island.

But getting back to accessing the Place Igor Stravinsky, you can utilise the metro stops called Rambuteau or the Hotel de Ville stop via lines 1 or 11, but there is also the Chatelet stop serving lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14.

But if you are arriving via the RER trains, then you would need the Charles de Gaulle - Etoile stop, which is actually right by the famous monument in Paris called the Arc de Triomphe that was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte I or alternatively, the Chatelet - Les Halles stop is slightly close via lines A, B and D.

Another mode of transport is the Paris buses, and you can get close to the square via the numbers such as 29, 38, 47, 58, 69, 70, 72, 75, 76, 81 and 96 to name a few, not forgetting that there are the bus tours in Paris like the open topped double decker buses of the l’OpenTour company that have a route going by here, along with the Batobus water bus that travels up and down the River Seine and has a stop nearby.