Why You Should Never Buy Water in Paris

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Carafe d'eau
"Une carafe d'eau, s'il vous plait." Photo: photokitty07

The quality drinking water in Paris is a precious resource that makes buying the plastic bottled variety a waste of funds, not to mention an obviously harmful gesture for the planet. The good news is that municipal Paris water tastes good. And it’s safe, free and widely available to locals and tourists alike.

Drinking in Public

If you’re out and about, take advantage of the city’s 820 drinking fountains (check out this map) including 120 historic Wallace drinking fountains or its new brand of sparkling water fountains that offer chilled bubbly water on tap.

How to Order Free Water in a Restaurant

If you’re in a Paris café or restaurant, water, like bread, is always free.

And it’s the only drink in France that comes with a free refill.

Just ask for a glass of water (un verre d’eau) or a carafe (une carafe d’eau) to indicate that you plan to revel in the complimentary pleasures of the city’s “grand cru.”

carafe eau de ParisOr if your waiter gives you a nudge by asking whether you prefer flat (plat) or sparkling (gazeuse or pétillante), asking for “Château-la-Pompe”–the cheeky nickname for tap water that translates roughly to “Château of the Water Pump”–will demonstrate your command of French wit and the knowledge that there’s no need to pay for something you can get for free.

Eau de Paris Souvenirs

In an effort to encourage Parisians to drink tap water, the publicly funded city water company Eau de Paris makes colorfully designed 1-liter carafes for home use that have the perfectly balanced mineral content of Paris water printed on the side.

The sturdy glass carafes come in limited edition designs including a carafe for each arrondissement to promote neighborhood pride. But there’s no reason you can’t bring one of these babies home and fill it with you own water tap water (or wine).

And if you’re not in the mood to lug a glass carafe in your carry-on, you can pick up a reusable Philippe Starck-designed plastic water bottle from a vending machine at the sparkling water fountain at André Citroën park in the 15th arrondissement.

About the author

Kristin Hohenadel

Kristin Hohenadel is a writer and editor who lives in Paris.

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