A New Sparkle for the Fountains of Paris

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A New Sparkle for the Fountains of Paris
Do you use the Saint-Michel Fountain as a handy meeting place which no one can possibly miss? Do you refill your water bottle when passing a Wallace Fountain? Or pause on a hot day in the Place Saint-Sulpice to admire the water splashing down onto the lions surrounding its central fountain? Fountains are an integral part of the Parisian streetscape and currently some of the most iconic are being cleaned and renovated in the Plan Fontaine devised by the City of Paris in order to return them to their sparkling best.  The Stravinsky Fountain next to the Centre Pompidou, for example, reopened last November after a two-year restoration and clean-up, the first in its 40-year history.  The colorful models – a bright blue clown’s hat, a pair of scarlet lips, a twisting snake, an elephant with a striped trunk – had been looking a little jaded, but now, refurbished, they sway and turn over the water and are especially jaunty whenever the sun is shining and the ripples in the 33-meter basin glisten. The sight is both an appropriate extension to one neighbor, the Centre Pompidou, and an intriguing contrast to the other, the 16th-century Saint Merri Church. Some come especially to see it, others pause as they pass by.     Stravinsky Fountain. Photo: Marian Jones The fountain dates from 1983, not long after the modernistic Centre Pompidou had been erected in place of some of the old streets of Les Halles. Next door to the bold new art and culture center was IRCAM, a music and acoustics research institute, whose first director, Pierre Boulez named the square, and hence the fountain, after the composer whose Rite of Spring had outraged many Parisians in 1913. Perhaps the idea was to cause another stir here? The designers certainly aimed to be eye-catching, placing their mix of brightly colored and black sculptures in a walled rectangular basin where they sway when animated by the wind or jets of water. The idea, they said, was to bring color and joy to an urban environment and to create a talking point.

Lead photo credit : Saint Sulpice. Photo credit: o / Flickr

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Recently retired from teaching Modern Languages (French and German), Marian now has time to develop her interests in travel and European culture and history. She will be in Paris as often as she can, visiting places old and new, finding out their stories and writing it all up as soon as she gets home. Marian also runs the weekly podcast series, City Breaks, offering in-depth coverage of popular city break destinations, with lots of background history and cultural information. She has covered Paris in 22 episodes but looks forward to updating the series every now and then with some Paris Extra episodes.


  • Judith Mitrani
    2024-04-25 10:22:24
    Judith Mitrani
    Some lovely articles, especially the one on the sparkle being sprinkled all over our city in honor of the Olympics and to impress the world with the most beautiful aspects of Paris. I know that events will be taking place all around France, which is of no less importance and beauty than the heart of Paris where I myself live. If you’re interested in checking out my blog post on my website who will see that I have been in my eight years of retirement here and this gorgeous city, around its outskirts, especially during Covid when one could have a picnic in the gardens of the Château Fontainebleau on a weekday and soak up Both the beauty Of the architecture and the fascinating history that Surrounds the Capital 🇫🇷