Friday, August 15, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

I probably should have written this post several weeks ago when it was hot and sticky. But I suppose even with cooler temperatures, it's still important to stay hydrated. The thing is that American style water fountains, or bubblers as they call them in New England, are nowhere to be found in Paris. (Disclaimer: You can find water fountains in the American Library, the American Embassy, and Marymount International School, although these are not exactly easy to find when you are out and about.) That being said, if you have a bottle, there's plenty of drinking water out there. Although the French tend to buy a lot of bottled water, water from the tap is perfectly safe and to my tastes, just fine for quenching one's thirst. So save your nickels for wine or coffee, and fill up on the free stuff.

Wallace fountains, named after the English industrialist who financed their original design and construction in the late 19th century, are elegant cast-iron structures that have a continuous stream of water running in the space behind those lovely ladies holding up the canopy. Apparently, these originally had a metal cup on a chain for passersby to catch a drink but for hygiene reasons, these are long gone. There's no way to stick your head in but plenty of room for your water bottle. There are over 60 of these fountains spread around Paris and they are turned on from March through November.

You can also find drinking water in many public spaces, dispensed from short, squat pumps. They aren't very pretty but they do the trick. With these, you have to push the button hard to fill your bottle. The button is spring loaded so it turns itself off.

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