Paris has over 200 fountains to its name. In the middle of a public garden, at the bend of a street, in a square… whether functional or decorative, they often have a story to tell. When temperatures rise, they attract passersby looking for a bit of fresh air. Paris Attitude will help you discover a few fountains, each with different styles.
The Stravinsky Fountain
Contemporary and original, the Stravinsky Fountain is the production of a collaboration between Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, which was commissioned in 1983 by the city of Paris and the George Pompidou Centre, which it is located just next to.
The 16 polyester sculptures by the visual artist are mounted on aluminum frames equipped with electric motors that create, along with the movements of the water, different sounds reminiscent of the music of composer Igor Stravinsky.
The Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens
In around 1650, Marie de Médici (widow of Henri IV) ordered its construction by Tomasso Francini, a Florentine engineer. Located in the Luxembourg Gardens, here we find the cyclops Polyphemus, although he is in love with Galatea, he surprises her in the arms of another, Acis.
Although the contrast between the beast and the lovers is amazing, the interest of this fountain lies in its Italian style, enhanced by a long, narrow pool. The place is surrounded by shade trees and is nice and refreshing. It’s a great place to a little break!
Saint Sulpice Fountain
Located in the 6th arrondissement, on the forecourt of the of Saint Sulpice church, the eponymous fountain dates back to 1844. It is the work of the architect Visconti.
It is also referred to as the “fountain of the preachers” or the “fountain of the four cardinal points,” because of the four statues of bishops who preached the gospel in the days of Sun King Louis XIV. This is a funny name when you realize that the sides of the fountain are almost exactly aligned with the cardinal points, but as for the bishops, they never made cardinal.
The imposing, Renaissance-style fountain stands 12 meters high. It is carefully guarded by four lions. It is composed of three octagonal basins arranged in a pyramid, with the upper basins overflowing in cascades. In its center, the four-sided fountain features the huge statues of bishops in their niches.
The Wallace Fountains
You must have passed more than one during your walks around Paris, did you notice them? Those little green fountains featuring four women? They are the result of a generous donation from Sir Richard Wallace in 1870, when Paris was on the verge of collapsing into chaos (during the Franco-Prussian War, with the Paris Commune in its wake) he decided to offer his adoptive hometown 50 water fountains to keep Parisians from getting thirsty.
The famous sculptor Charles-Auguste Lebourg managed the fountains project and they have since become true Parisian symbols, and have multiplied over the years. Paris now has over 120 Wallace fountains, which are connected to the city drinking water system!