Wallace Fountains, a source of free drinking water in Paris

Wallace Fountains - Traditional green fountain in Latin Quarter
Traditional green fountain in Latin Quarter

Wallace Fountains may be a very English sounding name, however, they are true Parisians!

You will find these beautiful public fountains all over Paris, in public parks or along the pavements.

Their purpose is to provide free drinking water!

The Wallace Fountains were introduced during the extensive programme of reconstruction that took place after the devastation caused by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and the Commune of Paris, the civil war it triggered.

Many buildings in Paris, including the aqueducts bringing water into the city, were indeed destroyed during these tragic events.

Parisians therefore had to pay exorbitant prices for water, and the common people, the elderly and the poor were obviously the most affected!

Sir Richard Wallace, a philantrophist

Sir Richard Wallace was one of the philanthropists who contributed to the rebuilding of Paris.

Wallace Fountains - Traditional fountain painted pink in the 13th district
Traditional fountain painted pink in the 13th district

The wealthy Englishman was indeed very fond of Paris.

He therefore funded the creation and installation of these fountains in order to provide free drinking water to the population.

The fountains were named after him, as a tribute to his generosity!

The sculptor Charles-Auguste Lebourg designed the cast-iron Wallace Fountains in the 1870’s.

The Wallace Fountains are originally all dark green, in order to blend with their surroundings.

A few fountains located in the 13th district were recently painted in pink (Rue J. Anouilh), red (Avenue d’Ivry) and yellow (Place Verlaine).

It’s an interesting and fun way of revamping them and attracting public’s attention to them.

Indeed, the Wallace Fountains are not listed Historical Monuments.

Hopefully, they’ll be in the near future!

Wallace Fountains – 4 models

Wallace Fountains come in four different models named:

Wallace Fountains - Traditional fountain painted yellow on Place Verlaine
Traditional fountain painted yellow on Place Verlaine

Large Model, Applied Model, Colonnade Model and Small Model.

The large model is the most commonly found all over Paris.

Its design was largely inspired from the French Renaissance Fontaine des Innocents near Les Halles in Paris.

It indeed consists of four caryatids representing Kindness, Simplicity, Charity and Sobriety.

These stand on an octagonal pedestal and support a pointed dome decorated with dolphins.

They turn their backs to the central column and each caryatid holds a different posture.

The City of Paris later commissioned the creation of the Small Models as an alternative.

You’ll find these simple push-button fountains in the many public gardens of the capital.

The Colonnade Model is very elegant.

It indeed consists of four columns that support a dome that protects the fountain.

Sadly only two are left!

Wallace Fountains - Model with columns on Place de Barcelone
Model with columns on Place de Barcelone

One is located on Place de Barcelone in the 16th District and the other on Avenue des Ternes in the 17th District.

The Applied Model (modèle à applique), as it names implies, is affixed on to a wall.

Water pours from the mouth of a naiad and lands in a small basin supported by two columns.

You’ll find the only remaining model on the perimeter wall of the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th District.

It is located at the junction of Rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Rue Cuvier.

As you can see, the Wallace Fountains have been around for decades!

They are fully part of the Parisian landscape.

Not only are they still in use, but they are hugely popular among the Parisians and the tourists.

The icing on the cake is that they are not only beautiful.

As I wrote above, they are also a source of free drinking water.

Look for them, you’ll love them!

However, be aware that they are in use from March 15th to November 15th only, because of the risk of frost during the winter months!

Photos via Wikimedia Commons: Applied ModelColonnade Model

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