The Fontaine Saint-Michel fountain in Paris
This Fontaine Saint-Michel was completed in 1860 during the restructuring of the city and is the tallest fountain in Paris, which was designed by Gabriel Davioud, and is dedicated to the Arc Angel Michael.
Beginning of Fontaine Saint-Michel fountain
Much of the city was being re-organised by Baron Haussmann by making wider roads, expanding on squares in Paris and constructing many new buildings, whilst demolishing lots of old buildings.
And this was when he asked the architect, Gabriel Davioud, to design a fountain that would be appropriate in its grandeur for the new square located close to the River Seine by one of the bridges in Paris that had also been expanded.
The first plans were drawn up Gabriel Davioud in 1855, then revised again in 1856 because the city of Paris wanted to hide the end wall of a building, which meant that the design had to be re-adapted in its proportions. Within this design there was a femine statue representing peace, but again the city did not like this idea.
Then there was going to be a statue of Napoleon in the centre of the square, but this met with much disapproval and so, in 1858 Gabriel Davioud then came up with the idea of the Arc Angel Michael, which was the final choice for one of the main architectural elements of the fountain.
Now the Arc Angel Michael is known as the Patron Saint of Warriors and apparently it was Michael that had appeared to Daniel who chased Satan away from paradise, who helped David beat Goliath and who appeared to Joan of Arc to free the country of France.
This is why the central recess of this elaborate fountain houses the sculpture of Saint Michael, hence the name, Fontaine Saint-Michel, which was finally inaugurated in the August of 1860.
About Fontaine Saint-Michel in Paris
Gabriel Davioud was trained as a sculptor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and he designed an elaborate fountain to cover the end wall, which ended up being 26 metres high by 15 metres wide, yet the elaborate design mean that the Fontaine Saint-Michel would require more than just his own craftsmanship to complete the tallest fountain in Paris.
The main figure of Saint Michael displayed combating the forces of evil was sculpted by Francisque Joseph Duret, who was a renowned sculptor that produced the two bronze caryatids for the Tomb of Napoleon located at Les Invalides, statues at Chateau Versailles, one of Christ at Madeleine church and many others.
The rock underneath Saint Michael was sculpted by Felix Saupin and the bas reliefs along with the ornamental foliage was produced by Noemie Constant.
And the two winged dragons on either side of the fountain that came to assist the devil, were produced by Alfred Jacquemart, who specialised in animal sculptures, both real and mythical, like the rhinoceros to be found at the Musee d’Orsay, the fountain of lions at the Place Felix Eboue and a sphinx on another fountain in Paris. In fact, these two monster sculptures that keep guard at the basin of the fountain have been copied numerous times over the years and made into objects such as paper weights and book ends.
There are also four statues, one that represents Prudence, one that represents Temperance, another that represents Power and the other that represents Justice, and each one of these was also produced by an individual sculptor.
You will also discover that the design of the Fontaine Saint-Michel is not just on a large scale compared to many others, but it also utilises different materials to make this a more colourful and unusual fountain in Paris. There are colums made with red marble from the Languedoc Roussillon region of France, but also green marble, yellow and blue stone along with bronze have all been utilised.
Access to Fontaine Saint-Michel in Paris
This fountain is located on the Place Saint-Michel in the 5th Arrondissement close to the River Seine on the left bank where you get a view over the Ile de la Cite island and the Sainte Chapelle, however, it is also close to the Sorbonne and the Musee de Cluny in the opposite direction.
You will find that the nearest Metro station is the Saint Michel stop via line 4 located opposite the fountain, but the RER stop called the Saint-Michel - Notre Dame on line C is also only a short walk away.
Fontaine Saint-Michel, Place Saint-Michel, 75005, Paris, Ile de France, France
Fontaine Saint-Michel photos
Place Saint-Michel photos
Statues at Place Saint-Michel
Saint Michel terrassant le Demon
Chimera statue LHS
Chimera statue RHS
Fortitude and Prudence
Justice and Temperance
Paris Metro line 4
Bus lines 21, 24, 27
Bus line 38
Bus line 85
Bus line 96
Night bus lines N12, N13, N14
Night bus line N122
RER Train lines B, C
Water bus service
Attractions close by
Caveau de la Huchette
Square Andre Lefevre
Notre Dame de Paris
Square de la Place Dauphine
Musee d’Histoire de la Medecine
Thermes de Cluny
Musee de Cluny
Place Henri Mondor
Le Procope restaurant
Refectoire des Cordeliers
Maison d’Auguste Comte