Paris counts around 500 fountains and it was not easy to make a selection of my favourites and write a post about my top five fountains in Paris. I had others or more in mind but some of them were not in working order when I have seen them… and personally I cannot consider a fountain without water as a real fountain, especially in summer when the sun is at last shining! So here is my selection of five amazing fountains, each of them being a work of art and offering a peaceful and refreshing break in Paris. Enjoy!
The Most Artistic: The ‘Fontaine Stravinsky’
The ‘Fontaine Stravinsky’, also called ‘Fontaine des Automates’ was ordered in 1983 by the City of Paris and the French Ministry of Culture to two famous artists: Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle. They were not only both painters and sculptors at once but also husband and wife. The sponsor of the project is Pierre Boulez, the famous French composer who was also the manager of the IRCAM: he asked the artists to design a fountain in tribute to the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
The Butte Montmartre competes with the Eiffel Tower to be the most famous and popular tourist attraction in Paris. I therefore hesitated for quite a while before writing a post about Montmartre considering that the place was too busy with lots of tourists to have kept its charm and authenticity. Yet Montmartre is not only a major tourist attraction. It remains a very charming area with a village-like atmosphere where one can still imagine how the artists used to live, meet and work there in the end of 19th century. No doubt that strolling in Montmartre is one of the most extraordinary walks one can go for in Paris: amazing views, lovely cobbled alleys, impressive stairs, beautiful houses and gardens with trees and birds,…
The Parc Monceau is doubtless the smartest garden in Paris. It is located in a very elegant and upscale neighbourhood in the 8th arrondissement of Paris and surrounded by beautiful buildings and luxury ‘Hotels Particuliers’.
The Parc Monceau was created in 1769 by the Duke of Chartres who entrusted its landscaping to the painter and architect Carmontelle. Carmontelle put there a variety of follies, which were very fashionable at that time: an Egyptian pyramid, the ‘Naumachie’, which is a pond surrounded by Corinthian columns and inspired by the Ancient Rome, greek columns, a sarcophagus,… During the French Revolution the Park underwent huge transformations.
One had then to wait until 1852 before seeing the Park be redesigned as a landscape garden. And in 1861 the Parc Monceau such as we know it today was inaugurated by Napoleon III : Some of the follies of Carmontelle are still there, including the impressive Naumachie ; many trees have been planted and other antiques and sculptures added. Among them a lovely Venitian bridge dating from the Second Empire: one of my favourites!