Sir Wallace fountains – drinking fountains in Paris       

Sir Wallace fountains – drinking fountains in Paris.

The Sir Wallace fountains – or Wallace fountains – are the iconic green drinking fountains across Paris.

In 1872, philanthropist Sir Richard Wallace (1818-1890) aimed to bring free, clean, drinking water to the public, particularly the poor in Paris.

His friend Charles-Auguste Lebourg designed the cast-iron fountain. The instruction from Sir Wallace was that the fountain should be useful, symbolic, beautiful, and a work of art. 


The design has four draped female figures (caryatids) representing kindness, simplicity, charity, and sobriety. Each of the females are slightly different – the way their knees are bent or where their tunic is tucked into their blouses. The women hold up the pointed dome, decorated by dolphins. 

There are four different types of Wallace fountains, varying in height and motif – up to a maximum height of 2.7 metres (almost 9 feet) tall. The second two models were created following the success of the first two models, building upon improvements. 

They continue to be made by GHM. There are currently about 100 fountains around the City of Paris, but only two of them, located in Place Louis Lépine, are classified as registered, historic monuments.

The Wallace fountains are turned on during spring to autumn months, from 15 March to 15 November.

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

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