Paris is going green by becoming more bubbly. The city recently unveiled yet another sparkling water fountain, with more on the way. The Question: is the water from fountain clean and for human consumption?
In Paris, there are public fountains that literally flow with free, clean, sparkling water! Instead of purchasing bottled water in stores, residents fill up bottles to take home.
History of the Free Fountain Water
Back in the 1800s, after the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune, when the city was under siege, fresh drinking water became scarce and prohibitively expensive, causing the poor to turn to cheaper alcohol.
So, an English philanthropist named Richard Wallace, 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, which were placed strategically throughout Paris in collaboration with the city of Paris.
These are now well over a century old, becoming known as Wallace Fountains and small forgettable monuments. Still, the tradition has continued, providing a great legacy for Sir Richard Wallace as well as a lifeline for the homeless and those in need, though not every green fountain is a Wallace Fountain, as you will discover later. (Source: E-Touring)
Free Access to All
The City of Paris has installed many additional water fountains over the years, all of which use drinking water the same as you would get from your tap. However, in recent years, the trend of drinking bottled water has become a lifestyle choice for many as a supposedly healthier alternative to normal tap water.
Indeed, Europe has been the leading consumer of bottled water for more than a decade, with Italy leading the way, followed by Germany, Hungary, and France. This is consistent with data from 2013 and 2015, though Belgium was fourth in 2016 and France was fifth in terms of per capita consumption.
France, particularly Paris, has been attempting to encourage people to use tap water, or fresh drinkable water from a fountain, rather than purchasing bottled water on a regular basis because plastic bottles take hundreds of years to degrade and have become a global environmental issue affecting wildlife and marine life. (Source: E-Touring)
Are They Adding More Fountains?
As previously stated, the City of Paris has continued to install additional fresh drinkable water points, which are primarily located near tourist attractions and in prominent areas of the city, becoming a common sight within the numerous parks and gardens, often with the traditional city emblem that has been used since the 12th century.
In fact, there are over 700 drinking water fountains that stretch from the city’s outskirts to the Boulevard Peripherique, but they can also be found in the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes areas, and some of the points now provide free sparkling water in addition to regular mineral water.
So, while the very fancy large model Wallace Fountains can still be found in places like the Jardins des Champs Elysées, the small push-button version is the most common to be found in Paris, but there are several other types of drinking water points in Paris as well, remember to bring your own bottle to refill!
However, due to the risk of damage from freezing during winter, the drinking water points are only operational between mid-March and mid-November, depending on weather conditions. (Source: E-Touring)