Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From the Source

The first time I walked by the little park on Avenue Victor Hugo just shy of Avenue Henri Martin in the 16th arrondissement, I was baffled by the sight of an older lady toting a suitcase caddy laden with a plastic crate full of water bottles.  She appeared to be filling up her two liter bottles at the park's pump.  "That's odd,"  I thought.  "Does city water really cost so much that folks on fixed incomes are reduced to getting their water this way?" 

Only much later did I find out that the pump at Square Lamartine is connected not to city pipes but to a spring of naturally pure water.  There are two other such sources in Paris:  one at place Verlaine in the 13th and another at place Hebert in the 18th.  The one in the 16th has a particularly interesting history.  While the current well dates back to the works of Baron Hausmann in 1855, the area was well known for its healing waters much earlier.  Benjamin Franklin, who lived in Passy during his years as envoy from the nascent American nation to the French court, was said to have returned to the U.S. with a stash of barrels containing the spring water.

Personally, I'm not too picky about my water so I can't tell you how Lamartine water rates against Evian, Volvic, Cristaline or any of the other 200 some brands of water marketed in France.  Or for that matter, I have no idea how it stacks up against what comes out of the tap.   If you really want to know, hop on the 63 bus or metro line 9 (rue de la Pompe) and check it out for yourself.  Just be sure to bring your own bottle!


PigletinFrance said...

hmm, I'm surprised that they're not charging for the water!

I've heard that the Parisian water has been peed in 20 times, I'm not sure if that's true, it's something my French friends say. I've never tasted Parisian tap water as far as I know so don't know how it compares to other places or your Volvic's, Evian's etc.

debbie in toronto said...

the tap water tastes fine to me..maybe even better than the over chlorinated stuff we have...there is also now a water fountain that gives you carbonated water in the Jardin de Reuilly ...so take your pick.

Laurie said...

Wow--of the many illuminating aspects of the city on your blog, this is one of my absolute favorites. Who knew?

Mimi said...

Whenever I went to Paris, I just stroll down the streets of Paris for the paris city tour which gives the exact picture of the city.

Pepe Le Pew said...

You should visit Hot Springs, Arkansas some time. People are lined up with milk jugs at outdoor fountains so they can take home some "miracle" water.

JChevais said...

It's hilarious that the métro station is Rue de la Pompe. New meaning to Château la pompe. Har.

Rudy E. said...

When I was an expat kid living in the 16th in the mid and late-1960s, we were told in no uncertain terms that the tap water caused typhoid and we were not to drink it. Of course, we did, and none of us, that I know us, ever contracted anything from it. Glad to hear things have improved somewhat.

Carolyn said...

Hi Anne,

Great post - I like Paris tap water! (and am also not fussy about water either) -- I wonder if the woman you saw is my lovely neighbour, who told me the Square Lamartine water is the best for tea and soup :)

In spring the square blossoms with gorgeous red tulips. I posted a photo here http://mysydneyparislife.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/tulips-from-paris/

Cheers and happy drinking.

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