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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Update: les fontaines Wallace (Wallace Fountains)

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Flower Market side by side

Il y a un an j'ai écrit ce "post" des fontaines Wallace. Cette semaine, j'ai eu la chance de rencontre Barbara Lambesis, une femme américaine qui a écrit un livre: Trouver les fontaines Wallace trouver Paris. Comme moi, Barbara était fascinée par les jolies fontaines vertes, mais elle a fait la grande récherche et a cherché tous les 103 fontaines Wallace á Paris. Puis elle a écrit un livre qui explique de la vie de M Wallace et l'histoire des fontaines, donc 21 promenades pour trouver les fontaines. L'auteur a dit: "En cherchant les fontaines, vous découvriez également le vrai Paris."

A year ago, I wrote this post about the lovely green Wallace fountains of Paris. This week, I had the good fortune to meet Barbara Lambesis, an American woman who has just published a book about the fountains: Find the Wallace fountains and find Paris. Like me, Barbara was fascinated by these beautiful structures, but unlike me, she really delved into their history and embarked on a mission to find all 103 fountains in Paris. Then she wrote a book about the fountains and the brainchild behind them, Sir Richard Wallace. Included in the book are 21 self-guided walks so that anyone can discover these small treasures and other treasures as well. Barbara has said: "When you find the fountains, you also find the real Paris."

Click here to purchase the book and to learn about La Société des fontaines Wallace (Society of the Wallace Fountains), a non-profit organization formed to promote, protect and preserve the Wallace fountains and their heritage.

Longtemps j’ai admiré des jolies petites fontaines vertes à Paris, notamment au Marché des Fleurs près de Notre Dame. Je ne savais pas exactement ce qu’ils étaient. J’ai pensé qu’ils étaient seulement une autre example de beaux détails architecturaux de Paris. Mais puisque j'ai vécu à Paris, j’ai remarqué les autres fontaines comme ça. Donc j’ai fait la récherche et j’ai appris le suivant.

For a long time I have admired the lovely, small green fountains dotted throughout Paris, but notably the two located in the Flower Market close to Notre Dame. I didn’t know anything about them. I just thought they were yet another example of the countless beautiful architectural details that is Paris. But since I’ve been living here, I’ve noticed many such fountains throughout the city. I decided it was time to do some research.

By the Seine - Left Bank

On les appelle « Fontaines Wallace. » Sir Richard Wallace était un philanthrope britannique qui a aimé Paris. Après les ravages causés de la guerre franco-prussienne de 1870-71, Paris a embarqué à un très ambitieux programme de recontruction. Beaucoup de ville aquaducs ont détrui, le prix de l'eau est devenu très cher et les pauvres n'avaient plus l'accès de l’eau potable. Pour fournir l’eau gratuite aux tous Parisiens, il a financé la création et installation de 50 fontaines à Paris.

The fountains are called Wallace Fountains. They are named after Sir Richard Wallace, a British philanthropist who loved Paris. After the heavy damage caused by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the city of Paris embarked on an extensive program of reconstruction. Many of the acqueducts that suppled the city with clean water were heavily damaged, which caused the price of water to sky-rocket, so that the poor and elderly were without access to clean water. Sir Wallace therefore funded the design and installation of 50 fountains in Paris so that the city’s citizens would have access to free clean water.

Le sculpteur Charles-Auguste Lebourg a conçu les fontaines. La « Fontaine des Innocents » de la Renaissance française près de les Halles était l’inspriation de la conception des fontaines.

The scupltor Charles-Auguste Lebourg was commissioned to create the design, which was inspired by the Fountain of the Innocent in the old central market, Les Halles.

Fountain of the Innocent

Caryatids on the Fountain of the Innocent

Il y a quatre caryatides représentent la gentillesse, la simplicité, la bienfaisance, et la sobriété. Elles se tiennent sur un piédestal octogonal et elles soutiennent un dôme décoré de dauphins.

Sir Wallace designed the fountains himself intending them to be beautiful as well as useful. He established four strict guidelines:

~~Height: tall enough to be seen from afar but not so tall as to destroy the harmony of the surrounding landscape

~~Form: both practical to use and pleasing to the eye

~~Price: affordable enough to allow installing dozens

~~Materials: resistant to the elements, easy to shape and simple to maintain.

The centerpiece of the design are the figures of 4 caryatids, representing kindness, simplicity, charity and sobriety (it was feared that the lack of access to clean water combined with other problems created by the city’s devastation would lead many to alcoholism). The four caryatids stand on an octagonal pedestal and hold a dome decorated with dolphins above their heads.

Each caryatid is slightly different - stances and tunic folds vary

Pointed dome

Il y a quatre modèles : le grand qui sont les plus courants, comme décrits ci-dessus.

There are four models. The most ubiquitous is the « grand » model, as described above.

Le petit modèle, qui a été par la suite commandé par la ville de Paris, comme alternative.

The small model was subsequently commissioned by the City of Paris as an alternative. These are found primarily in parks. I was in the Parc Buttes des Chaumont this afternoon and saw at least half a dozen of the small model, all being put to good use….filling water bottles and squirt guns, washing off sticky hands or simply providing a splash of water to the face as relief from the heat!

Le modèle colonnade, qui est très élégant. Malheureusement seulement deux restent.

The colonnade model, where simple columns replace the caryatids, is quite elegant. Sadly only two remain.

Le modèle à applique, qui est appliqué sur mur. Seulement un restes, au mur périphérique du Jardin des Plantes.

The applied (attached may be a better translation) model is attached to a wall. Only one remains, located in the peripheral wall of the botanical garden in the 5th arrondisemment.

Les fontaines sont faits de fonte et ils sont peints anglaise verte pour s’harmoniser avec l'environnement. En 2011, le nouveau quartier de la BNF / Paris Rive Gauche dans le XIIIème arrondissement est doté de trois fontaines grand modèle peintes dans des couleurs vives afin de célébrer la modernité des aménagements.

The fountains are made of cast iron and are painted a British racing green color so that they blend in with their surroundings. In 2011, however, the city council of the 13th arrondissement decided to paint three of its Wallace Fountains bright colors to celebrate the completion of renovations to the area around the National Library of France. Hence, in addition to the traditional dark green, Paris now has several Wallace Fountains painted poppy red, shocking pink and bright yellow.

avenue d’Ivry

Man on the right seemed to take a proprietorial interest in the fountain

rue Jean Anouilh by the entrance to George-Duhamel Garden

esplanade Pierre Vidal Naquet

Perhaps my favorite shot of the series....hiding from maman!

Today there are over 100 functioning “grande” Wallace fountains in Paris. From March through November they provide clean potable water to the homeless and others. Outside Paris you will find Wallace fountains in eight other French cities and worldwide in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East. Though not classified as “historic monuments,” these beautiful yet practical “monuments,” are an integral part of the Parisian landscape and personify our city to the outside world almost as much as the Eiffel Tower.

One of two Wallace fountains I recently discovered in Périgueux, a delightful market town in the Dordogne, in southwestern France

Spotted in Avignon.....

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