Tag Archives: Wallace Fountain

Paris Wanderlust: Sculptures — Niches & Caryatids

Sculptures — Niches & Caryatids


Statues sometimes take shelter on buildings, discretely tucked into a corner or prominently carved into facades. I chanced upon only one sculpture-in-a-niche below: Saint Catherine. Sometimes, you need an address. And you need to look up.

A sexy Saint Catherine

Historically, Saint Catherine of Alexandria is revered in France as a virgin martyr and prayerful confidant of Jeanne d’Arc. In her niche on Rue de Cléry, she’s portrayed as a sensual, nubile virgin. If her gown didn’t have cuffs and a neckline, one might reasonably assume that she was nude.

Rue de Cléry & Rue Poissonnière (2e)

In the image above, she clasps against her body palm fronds, symbolic of martyrdom. At her feet leans a cracked breaking wheel, allegedly destroyed by Catherine’s mere touch before it could be used as the instrument of her torture and death. She was unable to cheat the executioner twice: Emperor Maxentius had her beheaded.

Traditionally, she’s the patron saint of unmarried women and milliners. Why milliners? On Catherine’s feast day, unmarried French women customarily wore a hat — simple or fanciful — and prayed for a husband. Enterprising French milliners took their cue from this custom and embraced Catherine as their patron saint as well.

Because of her association with the breaking wheel, Catherine rather morbidly — and ironically — became the patron saint of wheelwrights.

The merry knife grinder

I first thought that the niche sculpture below represented a medieval tradesman. Turns out it’s a copy of an 18th-century sign advertising the services of a knife grinder.

corner Rue de Jouy & Rue de Fourcy (4e)

This one sharpens a knife and raises a wine goblet — no doubt a handy life skill. Water flowing from a pierced clog rinses and cools the whetstone. And unless I’m mistaken, wine splashes from the goblet.

The sculpture’s nickname is “Gagne-Petit,” low-paid worker.

Cleric with little boy

Rue du Cherche-Midi (6e)

Christians and Pagans

There must be a good story or two surrounding the pre-Haussmannian edifice below, whose facade sports four sculptures in niches — two Christian and two pagan. The building is located on Rue Grégoire-de-Tours, named after the 6th-century bishop and historian.

Probably built first half of 19th century; 32 Rue Grégoire-de-Tours (6e)

The figure in the lowest niche, a bearded man holding what looks like a plumed pen, could be a representation of Grégoire-de-Tours, since that saint is often depicted with the attributes of book and writing implement.

Next storey up is Demeter, goddess of the abundant harvest, carrying a cornucopia and cluster of grapes:

Next up, a nun or saint in earnest prayer:

Laid-back Dionysus casually claims the uppermost niche. He slouches, loins barely covered with a lion’s pelt (one side slipping down suggestively). One arm leans on a grapevine plinth, the other rests on his head. Like Demeter, he holds a cluster of grapes, dangling them next to his head (also suggestively).

The facade’s cool classicism radiates a tranquil symmetry: the column of niched statues resides between vertical rows of identical recessed windows. And the horizontal bands at each floor balance the verticality of the niches and windows.

The whole facade is so harmonious that the mingling of nun and party god barely registers.

The egalitarian mix of Christian and pagan is another mystery of Paris with her often incongruous layers of history and myth.

Pagan gods on Hôtel de Rome

Eight statues and two busts — all Greek mythological figures — adorn the busy Neoclassical facade of the early 19th-century Hôtel meublé de Rome (furnished rooms for the “home-away-from-Rome”).

Whereas harmony and simplicity reign at the Christian-pagan facade, the dynamic rhythms of the Hôtel meublé de Rome keep the eyes pinging like a pinball machine:

Hôtel meublé de Rome, 136 Rue Montmartre (2e)

Significantly, the height of ceiling and window decreases for each successive floor. This diminishing height creates a perspective illusion, making the building seem taller.

It also confirms that the building’s original function was not aristocratic hôtel particulier but hotel or apartment building (also indicated by its advertisement of “meublé,” “furnished”). Thus each floor would have held one or more tenants. This kind of apartment building or hotel, rather than single-family mansion, became more common after the French Revolution.

Buildings like the post-Revolution Hôtel meublé de Rome often displayed the social stratification of their tenants. Rental of a more prestigious — and expensive — lower storey apartment meant fewer stairs to climb and higher ceilings in your living quarters. The lower floors also had better facade decorations. Your higher rent bought you a whole god plus maybe a lyre and a fancy cornice.

Rental of the upper floor meant more stairs to climb and lower ceilings in your living quarters — and you only got the head of the god.

Caryatids & Atlantes

Caryatids are a phenomenon of ancient Greece. Nameless curvy women holding up a temple’s roof for eternity: a perfect marriage of function, aesthetics, and patriarchy. Traditionally, caryatids represented women who had resided in a Peloponnesian town that had, to their eternal sorrow, supported Persia during the Greco-Persian Wars. Thus, being a prop supporting an edifice was originally a symbolic punishment for women who happened to live on the losing side of a war.

Caryatids — and their male counterparts, Atlantes — have enjoyed a revival ever since the Renaissance. They’ve been part of the architectural syntax in almost every period since then. Even so, most of Paris’ surviving caryatids and Atlantes date from the second half of the 19th century.

21 Boulevard de Strasbourg (10e)

Paris’ caryatids fascinate with their ability to absorb various meanings according to the wishes of the sculptor or the needs of their clients, or in keeping with the zeitgeist.

Since the nameless caryatids have lost much of their association with ancient Greek slavery, they are free to become associated with the ideals of the French Revolution, icons of industry and capitalism, or movements of social reform.

The swan song of Hôtel Fieubet

On a quiet corner of the Marais sits an exceedingly ornate mansion, Hôtel Fieubet, that now houses a primary and secondary school:

L’École Massillon (4e)

The edifice was first built as an hôtel particulier during the late 16th century. Over the centuries since then, the aristocratic townhouse was sold at least four times and renovated as many.

Twenty-five years after the French Revolution, Hôtel Fieubet was retrofitted as a sugar refinery.

In the mid-19th century, it was purchased one last time by a private owner, who began an ambitious restoration project. He hired sculptor Jules Gros to decorate the facade in the arguably regrettable Italo-Spanish Baroque style. The overabundance of carved detail became the swan song of Hôtel Fieubet.

2 bis quai des Célestins (4e)

On the eastern facade, the four curiously armless (and rather lifeless) Atlantes seem as superfluous as the cornucopian excess, jumbled tools of labour, and gratuitous disgruntled lion that they support.

Below: The two caryatids in the courtyard at least have the dignity of retaining their arms to grasp garlands of fruit and jewelry. However, these figures didn’t fare much better under Gros’ busy chisel. The illusion that they are upholding anything, be it Greek temple or aristocratic treasury, is laid bare. They have lost the appearance of usefulness.

Before the owner could finish his restorations, his money dried up, and large portions of Hôtel Fieubet’s facade remain a tabula rasa. No overflowing cornucopias, no supporting cast of caryatids or Atlantes. Peace and quiet, except for the schoolchildren.

The Four Caryatids of the Wallace Fountains

The most ubiquitous caryatids in Paris are the four that adorn the forest green Wallace Fountains that you encounter everywhere. These caryatids, with the help of their curled Ionian capitals, appear to hold up a reservoir of water that trickles down for the benefit of the thirsty passerby.

During the 1870s, British philanthropist Sir Richard Wallace donated hundreds of these public fountains to his beloved Paris. He wanted to provide free, clean drinking water to all residents after Paris’ aqueducts were destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War.

Another war, more oppressive weight on women. Plus ça change . . .

However, these caryatids are no longer oppressed slaves but bearers of Victorian reformism: one of the four is an allegory of Sobriety. Indeed, the Wallace Fountains themselves are part of an international program of so-called “temperance fountains” intended to promote their potable waters as a healthy alternative to alcoholic beverages.

Water flows from the Wallace Fountains in all except the coldest months. And yes, it’s still potable.

Caryatids holding up the evening paper (and writing it)

One of the traditional industries of Rue Montmartre is journalism and newspaper publication. The Revolution of 1848 saw a thriving newspaper market on that street. In 1883, the evening newspaper La France moved into its large new headquarters at 142 Rue Montmartre:

The two outer figures are identical Atlantes wearing lion pelts — paws and tails dangle on the columns that constitute the lower half of the men’s bodies. The Atlantes do the heavy lifting of the newspaper’s stone banner.

The inner two females are differentiated not only by their faces, poses, and draping, but also by their professional attributes of journalism and typography. They are not true caryatids, as they bear a different kind of weight: the responsibility of writing the news and presiding over the printing press.

One holds paper and plumed pen.

The other is surrounded by typesetting and printing tools: a printing press frame and cylinder. And I think I see a compositor’s forme to the left of her feet.

She holds a liberty torch — symbolic of enlightenment in the French republic and perhaps also emblematic of the ideal of journalistic truth setting people free.

The erotic Atlantes of the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin

The sensuality of the four Atlas figures on the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin (1873) is undeniable:

Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin (1873), 18 Boulevard Saint-Martin (10e)

Their upraised arms and elbows, muscular form, and contrapposto attitude (raised hip accentuated by the drapery) are reminiscent of Michelangelo’s The Dying Slave or Rodin’s The Age of Bronze.

I’m thinking also of the identical sculptures lined up along the roof of an Art Deco police station in Paris. These sculptures, based on The Dying Slave, are also undeniably erotic.

Avenue de Daumesnil and Rue de Rambouillet (12e)
The fashionable angel-caryatid of Rue de Turbigo

She’s colossal, self-possessed, and soignée. And she blends so well with her building’s facade. She’s a bit camouflaged, but once I became aware of the Angel of Rue Turbigo, I was in awe.

L’Ange de Turbigo, 57 Rue de Turbigo (3e)

The hybrid angel-caryatid was born during Haussmann’s re-creation of Paris. Haussmann, in order to raze medieval structures and raise grander ones, invited developers to finance construction in exchange for the right to profit from the sale or lease of the properties.

One developer, Demangeat, was entrusted with building along a slight bend in Rue de Turbigo, creating an obtuse angle along the facade. Demangeat wanted to disguise and beautify the building’s angle. It was a dilemma of aesthetics. What’s more, the solution would have to conform to Haussmann’s building regulations: no protrusion of the ornament, and no obstruction of light entering adjacent apartments.

Demangeat advertised a contest at the Académie des Beaux-Arts and selected the winning submission: a monumental angel in relief — in effect, a caryatid. The angel’s long body is sheathed in a gown whose gathered folds resemble a fluted Greek column — a column that cloaks the angle of the building. And her counterbalancing horizontal wings conceal the balcony support for the fifth floor.

One more note about the aptness of the design, which is the polar opposite to the caryatids in the courtyard of Hôtel Fieubet. There, the caryatids’ jewellery languidly spills from their drapery in an overt symbol of aristocratic wealth.

By contrast, the Rue de Turbigo angel proudly yet matter-of-factly wears an haute couture bodice, earrings, a beaded necklace, a little handbag, and tassels adorning everything but her wings.

She’s a prosperous bourgeois angel. Her attributes also reflect the fashion industry of Rue de Turbigo: textiles, garments, and accessories.

The modesty plinth

Below are struggling male and female weight-bearers:

Where modesty or prudishness dictates, the loins of otherwise nude statues are most often sheathed with drapery. Above, plinths rise up like stone fig leaves.

Paris’ passages — paired caryatids and Atlantes

Caryatids and Atlantes grace the entrances to some of Paris’ passages. Only a few of these early 19th-century Parisian shopping arcades survived Haussmann’s draconian reconfiguration of streets.

La Cour du Commerce St-André

The oldest surviving passage in Paris is La Cour du Commerce St-André, (1776). Straddling the entrance are two figures representing Hermès, god of commerce in this context.

Passage de la Cour du Commerce St-André, Rue St-André-des-Arts
Passage du Bourg-l’Abbé

The caryatid and Atlas at the entrance to the Passage du Bourg-l’Abbé (1828) are not Greek gods but allegories of Commerce and Industry. Very 19th century.

Passage du Bourg-l’Abbé

Next: Sculptures — Les Animaliers

Camille Martin

Paris Wanderlust: Sculptures — Fantasies & Hybrids

Sculptures — Fantasies & Hybrids

The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls

In Montmartre, a man is caught in the act of passing through a stone wall.

Jean-Bernard Métais, Le Passe-Muraille (2006), Rue Norvins (16e)

This unsettling sculpture is based on “Le Passe-Muraille,” a 1943 short story by Marcel Aymé. The main character, M. Dutilleul, is a Walter Mitty type, a bland and old-fashioned middle-aged creature of habit. Suddenly and accidentally endowed with the magical ability to pass through walls, he secretly embarks on a series of escapades such as burglaries, while still holding his day job as a low-level bureaucrat oppressed by his boss.

In the end, he accidentally ingests medication that extinguishes his superpowers at a most inopportune time: exactly at the moment he’s passing through a garden wall, returning home from a passionate tryst with a married woman.

The sculptor portrays Dutilleul as stuck, mid-stride, unable to escape the wall that forever after holds him prisoner.

The story imagines freedom, not only from confining walls but also from oppressive bosses and prison wardens. Written during the Nazi Occupation of Paris, such a fantasy — even though it ends badly for the protagonist — must have inspired in French readers a vision of liberation.

Lunar Bird Square

Communing with the moonbird . . .

Joan Miró, L’Oiseau Lunaire (1966), Rue Blomet (15e)

I can’t imagine a better playground for children than this little park that culminates in the large totemic Lunar Bird by Joan Miró. The rounded bronze solidity of the bird may have rendered it flightless, yet it practically levitates. Its head tilts skyward, and its little protuberances — wings, horns, beak — reach into the air on high alert.

Vestigial wings suit this monumental hummingbird.

The children seem to be inspired.

The Centaur

Garden tools jut out behind The Centaur, who seems to be created entirely from scrap metal.

Yet the mythical beast also radiates dignity and poise.

César Baldaccini, Le centaur (1985), Place Michel Debré (6e)

More about this distinguished centaur in my upcoming post on the Cimetière du Montparnasse.

Bulgarian-French cross pollination

I happened upon a sidewalk exhibit by Bulgarian-French sculptor Jivko, whose work echoes archetypes of the ancient world and fairy tales of Eastern Europe.

Mairie (town hall) of the 6e arrondissement, 78 Rue Bonaparte

The dragon of the water facility

At a water control plant, a steel-and-plastic dragon slithers through pavement like a sci-fi hallucination.

Chinese-French artist Chen Zhen, La Danse de la Fontaine Emergente (2008), Rue Paul Klee (13e)

The work perhaps dips into the dragon iconography of the sculptor’s Chinese heritage. It also wryly references the urban myth of creatures that grow in sanitation culverts, like the alligators that supposedly live in the sewers of New York City.

The dragon’s ribbed tubular shape (resembling a vacuum cleaner hose) and ridge of dorsal plates give it a tongue-in-cheek rather than scary appearance. At night, its colourful neon lights enthrall clubbers spilling onto Place Augusta-Holmes.

A sculpture garden for Nelson Mandela

A balloon sculpture and “grassy” fence in Jardin Nelson Mandela offer a colourful contrast to the somber Gothic backdrop of Église St-Eustache.

Jardin Nelson Mandela, Les Halles (1er)

The exploding canoes of Diderot University

Dozens of aluminum canoes and boats explode next to a student walkway on the campus of Diderot University.

Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Paris (2013) (13e)

Nancy Rubins, creator of Monochrome for Paris, brushes aside literal notions about her work that don’t necessarily deepen one’s experience of it. The number of boats used, or the sculpture’s placement near the Seine River, are not as relevant as the use of the boats to create something new. She likens the work to the growth of molecules into crystals.


A canary yellow Wallace Fountain with a background of crystallizing canoes:

Mystery at Place Nationale

Le Mystère reaches its full potential at Place Nationale.

Leonardo Delfino, Le Mystère (1990), Place Nationale (13e)

Les Colonnes de Buren

The black-and-white striped columns in the courtyard of Palais Royal were created by Daniel Buren way back in 1986. Even so, to this day the controversy following their installation haunts descriptions of them, similar to Pei’s still-notorious glass pyramid at the Louvre.

Children, however, don’t seem to find anything controversial about the columns. They’re more concerned with inventing games to play around them.

Daniel Buren, Les Deux Plateaux (a.k.a. Les Colonnes de Buren) (1986), Le Palais Royal (1er)

Below — as I understood the game — the girls were safe from the marauding boys as long as they occupied a column.

Homage to Rimbaud

Below, L’Homme aux Semelles Devant (The Man with Soles in Front) pays homage to poet Arthur Rimbaud.

The sculpture puns on Paul Verlaine’s nickname for Rimbaud, “l’homme aux semelles de vent” (the man with soles of wind). If I disregard the sculpture’s pun, I admire the work’s edginess.

Ipoustéguy, L’Homme aux Semelles Devant (1985) Photographed in the Marais, but since moved to Jardin Tino-Rossi.

Two sculptures by Ossip Zadkine

Le Prométhée (Prometheus)
Ossip Zadkine, Le Prométhée (1956), Place St-Germain-des-Prés (6e)
La Naissance des formes (The Birth of Forms)
Ossip Zadkine, La Naissance des formes (1958), Boulevard Edgar Quinet (14e)

Bas-relief of antler-man, somewhere on Rue Falguière

Next: Sculptures — Three Greats

Camille Martin

Paris Wanderlust: Fountains


Paris has found a myriad of ways to deliver water to her citizens in public spaces, and every fountain, cascade, and spout has its own story and personality. Below are some of them, in rough chronological order of their creation.

Fontaine des Innocents

The Renaissance-style Fontaine des Innocents sits on a large square, formerly the site of Saints-Innocents, an overcrowded medieval cemetery.

Architect: Pierre Lescot; sculptor: Jean Goujon. 1540. Place Joachim-du-Bellay (1er)

To the horror of Parisians, the bodies of the cemetery, buried one on top of the other, became so heavy that they crashed into the walls of adjacent cellars. To solve the problems created by city cemeteries, the skeletal remains of millions were exhumed and relocated to a subterranean limestone quarry on the Left Bank. These bones, of course, form the decorative ossuary of the Catacombes.

During Haussmann redo of Paris, Fontaine des Innocents was moved to the square, which is now mostly empty except for the crumbling monument.

But I realize I haven’t said anything about the fountain itself. It’s a Renaissance beauty — not to get overly technical, but it’s a real Romeo and Juliet trysting place. I hope someday the City of Paris will restore it. The world needs the lovers’ children.

Octagonal pond with putti fountain, Jardin du Luxembourg

view from Tour Montparnasse

Jardin du Luxembourg’s landmark octagonal pond was built for Marie de’ Medici, widow of Henri IV. Now it’s a public pond where adults forever unwind and children eternally navigate toy sailboats.

1630s? (6e)

Medici Fountain, Jardin du Luxembourg

Fontaine des Quatre Saisons

Fontaine des Quatre Saisons (1745). 57-59 rue de Grenelle (7e)

The colossal edifice of Fontaine des Quatre Saisons seems absurdly disproportionate to the tiny mascarons dispensing water in trickles (see the two to the right of the couple above).

The water-spouts near the ground are easy to miss amid the dry grandiosity towering above them.

At the time of the fountain’s construction during the reign of Louis XV, Voltaire complained:

A fine piece of architecture, but what kind of fountain has only two faucets where the water porters will come to fill their buckets?

Fontaine du Fellah

The Egyptian-influenced Fontaine du Fellah is one of several Parisian public fountains commemorating Napoleon’s military campaigns:

52 Rue de Sèvres, next to Metro Vaneau (1806) ( 7e)

Above the fellah (Egyptian peasant), an eagle spreads its wings, symbolizing Napoleon’s power over the conquered people.

Below the fellah is mounted a mascaron of a lion’s head — but to me, it resembles a death’s head. An unpleasant lion, in any case.

Napoleon’s Fontaine du Fellah was a copy of an ancient statue. Not Egyptian, but Roman. Antinous, a favourite of Emperor Hadrian, donned an Osiris costume and modeled for the sculpture. So Napoleon’s fellah is an imitation of an imitation. Exoticism twice removed. Still, he carries Napoleon’s water.

However . . . do I see a hint of irony in the Archaic smile playing about the lips of this fellah?

Fontaine du Palmier

The phallic triumphal column of Fontaine du Palmier presents a more ambitious monument to Napoleon I’s military adventures:

Place du Châtelet (1e)

The victory column echoes Roman antecedents. Napoleon III added sphinxes to the base, all the rage in Paris since his uncle’s conquest of Egypt.

Fontaine Charlemagne

Fontaine Charlemagne checks the boxes of fountain tropes: putto inside vaulted niche hoists giant clamshell and slouches in basin supported by dolphins.

(1840) (4e)

It was installed in 1840, the same year as the similarly-styled monumental fountains of the Place de la Concorde. This one is putto-sized.

Fontaine Charlemagne is located next to Lycée Charlemagne on Rue Charlemagne. A triple eponym in one spot.

Fontaine St-Michel

The enormous Fontaine St-Michel was an Haussmannian project designed to cover the end of a building. A proposal to include a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte was nixed in favour of the Archangel slaying Satan.

Gabriel Davioud, Fontaine St-Michel (1858-1860) (6e)

The reddish marble columns upstage even the drama of the archangel: their unusual colour makes a big statement in a city awash in cream-grey limestone and patinated bronze. But the red marble with white veins is patriotic if not Parisian: it originates from the Languedoc region.

Raban Maur, medieval monk-scholar, described the marble as a mixture of foam and blood. Fooey.

The allegorical fountains of Square Émile-Chautemps

The modest but fetching Haussmanian fountains of Square Émile-Chautemps consist of allegorical figures. Below: Agriculture and Industry.

Boulevard Sébastopo (1860) (3e)

Fontaine Sainte-Geneviève

Three little lion’s-head mascarons spout water into drains at Fontaine Sainte-Geneviève.

Nice shade of blue.

Placette Jacqueline-de-Romilly, near the Panthéon, 1864 (5e)

Fountain of the Four Corners of the World

Located in Jardin Marco Polo, the Fountain of the Four Corners of the World was created for Haussmann’s urban reconstruction:

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Fontaine des Quatre-Parties-du-Monde (1867-1874) (6e)

One critic described the dynamic female nudes representing the cardinal points as “wild” and “vulgar.”


Wallace Fountains

Below, a friendly Wallace Fountain. Designed and financed by British philanthropist Richard Wallace, these dark green fountains provided clean drinking water to Parisians following the devastation of the city during the Franco-Prussian War (1870).

Below: A Wallace Fountain with the monumental Fontaine Saint-Sulpice looming in the background.

Wallace Fountain, at Place St-Sulpice (1872) (6e)

In recent years, the commonplace green has been updated. Below, a canary yellow Wallace Fountain offers a drink on the campus of Diderot University

Nancy Rubins’ Monochrome for Paris, made of canoes, explodes in the background.

Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet (13e)

A periwinkle blue Wallace Fountain:


Delacroix Fountain, Jardin du Luxembourg

Jules Dalou, Delacroix Fountain (installed 1890) (6e)

Fountain across from Mosquée de Paris

Below, the pretty Hispano-Moresque fountain of mosaic tiles and marble sounds a sympathetic vibration with the Mosquée de Paris across the street.

Place du Puits-de-l’Ermite (1928) (5e)

A waterfall from the 1937 Paris Exposition

The monumental waterfall below survives from the 1937 Paris Exposition. Parc Kellermann was later created around it.


At the bottom of the waterfall, I looked up and saw a man standing tall on the parapet above. I snapped the photo, he grinned, and I smiled back. It was a moment of comradery.

The waterfall, however, hasn’t aged well.

Fontaine Souham

Like a cool drink of water, the Fontaine Souham with its shiny steel half-spheres beckons the passerby.

Sculptor: Alberto Guzmán, Fontaine Souham (1983). Jardin de la Place Souham (13e)

Fontaine Stravinsky

Niki de Saint Phalle’s colourful Death and Firebird sharply contrast with Jean Tinguely’s black metal contraptions in celebrated Fontaine Stravinsky. The water-spouting sculptures are motorized.

Fontaine Stravinsky (1983), next to Centre Pompido (4e)

Stravinsky Fountain and the Columns of Buren were both part of a 1980s public art initiative by the City of Paris.

Ice floes buckling at Place du Québec

The sidewalk at Place du Québec erupts to reveal an underground fountain. The artist intended the work to represent the springtime breakup of ice sheets on St. Lawrence River.

Québecois artist Charles Daudelin, Embâcle (1984) (6e)

The fountain of Jardin Vercingétorix-Brune

Forlorn, dry, and surrounded by overgrown weeds and artless graffiti, the little fountain of Jardin Vercingétorix-Brune has seen better days. Fountain and park are slated for renovation in 2020.

Jardin Vercingétorix-Brune (1986), Boulevard Brune (14e)

Maillol Fountain

This sadly playful (playfully sad?) mosaic fountain is dedicated to French sculptor Maillol. It deteriorates at its location along Passage Aristide Maillol. Like the fountain of Jardin Vercingétorix-Brune, it needs some TLC.

Michel de Sablet, Maillol Fountain (1984); off Rue Falguière (15e)

A leaf for James Joyce

Leaf-shaped drinking fountain in Square James Joyce:

(1998) (13e)

I’m not sure whether the tonic leaf is associated with Joyce, but the following passage from Finnegans Wake could make it so:

My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I’ll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff!

“Rubin’s vase” fountain, Place de la Garenne

In 2000, the Paris water management company sponsored a competition for the design of new public drinking fountains to be called “Millennial Fountains.” The winning fountain below is based on the idea of an optical illusion called “Rubin’s vase,” in which the viewer alternately sees either a vase or two faces in profile.


The use of the female form for this public water source resonates with the caryatids of the Wallace Fountains.

The salamanders of the Bièvre River

Lovable Salamanders of the Bièvre inhabit parks that generally follow the course of the now-subterranean river. The one below is located in Square Paul Grimault.

Véronique Vaster, Salamander of the Bièvre (2013) (13e)

Potable salamander spit:

Next: Old Friends at Père Lachaise Cemetery

Camille Martin