Fountains of Paris
Paris is waking up from its wintery sleep with surprisingly balmy weather (followed by cold chills to remind us of the season of course!) and eye-watering bursts of sunshine. This is the perfect temps to put on your walking shoes and go for a stroll around the city. Your mission? To explore the best of Paris’ iconic fountains!
Let’s start on the picturesque Rive Gauche (the Left Bank of the river Seine). Most tourists who want to visit Notre Dame will get off the metro at Saint Michel, where you’ll see the striking Fontaine Saint Michel, built in the mid-1800s, on the main plaza. Walk up the boulevard and you’ll come to the Luxembourg Garden. This park contains the famous Medici Fountain, a stunning example of the Italian architectural influence in Paris during the 17th century. The park also has a charming small lake with a fountain in the middle, where children (and adults!) come to sail their miniature boats.
Cross over the river to the Right Bank and head to the entrance to the metro station you should never take – Chatelet (Why not? Because it’s a deep, dark underground labyrinth with hoards of people and never-ending construction.) Stay on the surface and admire the Fontaine de la Victoire, also known as the Fontaine du Palmier, one of 15 fountains commissioned by Napoleon in 1806. The four statues around the base represent Vigilance, Justice, Strength and Prudence. All qualities you’ll need if you do decide to take the metro here.
Just a few minutes away is the breathtaking Hôtel de Ville (town hall) with its fountains at the front and side. Relatively modern, these were constructed by François-Xavier Lalanne in 1983.
The two Fontaines de la Concorde have to be the most iconic “That’s Paris!” fountains in the city. Navigate your way across the traffic onto the Place de la Concorde and its famous obelisk to see these monuments built by 12 different sculptors.
For the really big, showy fountains, you need to get yourself to Trocadero, ideally around sunset so you can also see the Eiffel Tower across the river light up and do her sparkly dance. The fountain here is called the Fontaine de Varsovie (Warsaw fountain). Its twenty water cannons and cascades make evening displays unforgettable.
More unsual fountains can be found at the Pompidou Center, to the right of the plaza, where you can’t miss the Igor Stravinsky Fountain, aka the Fontaine des Automates, overlooked by the giant Chuuuttt! (Sssshhh!) mural. Each of the wacky sculptures refers to one of the musician’s pieces. The bold, unconventional shapes and colors still cause controversy today!
On the ‘unsual fountain’ theme, if you find yourself in the 15th arrondissement have a look around the contemporary André Citroen Park with its hot air balloon rides, free sparkling water and water jet fountains that shoot up from the paved floor. Children are officially advised not to play in the jets, but the minute the sun is out you can hear laughing and splashing everywhere.
Of course, the real King of the Fountains is found outside Paris, at the Chateau de Versailles. Make the most of a trip to this beautiful palace and go on a bicycle tour around the town and grounds, taking in the wonderful waterways and fabulous fountains!
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