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Aug 3, 2016

Water, Water Everywhere: Brique des Sources

THE STORY:

You'll hardly be able to find a public bathroom to use in Paris, but you'll need one, because, by contrast, you'll be able to find drinking water everywhere. The prettiest ones are these green, rather 19th century-looking statues, with a steady stream of water pouring down the middle.

 

If it looks like Gigi is inconveniently far from the fountain, it's because they tend to have a few bees flitting about. I guess bees get hot and thirsty, too. The good news is that I've never seen them sting anybody. But she's not taking any chances. You can fill up your bottles. Or just reach out and cool down.


There are 1200 permanent water fountains around Paris (find the nearest one using this map)...

 
 

...and a bunch of temporary ones set up right now for Paris Plage (when the road by the Seine is transformed into a beach and play area).

 

It's appropriate that the Seine is right next to these fountains, since roughly half of Paris' drinking water comes from the Seine. And yes, of course it is filtered and treated. A lot. In the end, it tastes just fine, although as "hard" water, with a lot of minerals in it, we still like to filter ours again at home for a more neutral flavor. But when we're out and about, the refreshing, cold fountain water is absolutely fine.

A person works up a big thirst playing pétanques (that's bocce balls for most of you) and other games in the hot sun.


 

So then it's time to head over to one of the many Paris Plage fountains set up to distribute Eau de Paris -- Paris Water, that is. Evidently, 88% of Parisians have confidence in drinking Paris water.


The city is trying to convince the other 12%, I guess, by telling us that a liter of Paris water costs only .003 (that's 10 liters for just 3 centimes, or cents, essentially). Drinking Paris water instead of buying bottled also reduces packaging waste by 7kg per year.

 

Perhaps the other 12% just want to know what's in their water. This might help:


If you find one of the really special drinking fountains (a few temporarily on Paris Plage and about half a dozen permanent ones around the city), you even have a choice between flat and....this is France, after all.....sparkling water (petillante)!

 

The 13th, 16th, and 18th arrondissements are also home to one artesian well each, where good, clear drinking water naturally high in iron and fluoride actually comes up through piping to a public spigot. I have no photos because I am willing to do many things to report to you on this blog, but heading out to the 16th arrondissement to take a photo of a spigot is not one of them.

You can't take Eau de Paris with you past airport security, but you can go into the local Paris boutique (at Hotel de Ville) and buy your special Eau de Paris pitcher souvenir.

 

There are, of course, more famous fountains around Paris, and many of them are gorgeous. But don't drink the water.

 
 

Similarly, there are some fun water features for cooling down at Paris Plage that are best enjoyed without consuming.


THE CHEESE: Brique des Sources

Brique des Sources is a raw goats' milk cheese hailing from Drôme, a department in southeastern France, which takes its name from a river that flows through it, in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The name of the cheese seems fairly self-evident, once you know that "sources" means "water springs" and we can assume that there are springs near the river, in the verdant valleys, or flowing forth from the foothills of the Alps. And a "brique" describes the brick-like shape.


This gorgeous ashed cheese is thick and creamy, with a luscious, unctuous, rich texture. The flavor is mild -- mildly goaty, mildly salty, with gentle hints of grasses and flowers, from the grazing land of the goats. It's thick enough to eat in a chunk, but soft enough to spread on bread. This makes it an ideal cheese on which to drizzle a little honey or put some fruit -- fresh or in a jam/gel.


This cheese is hard to find -- so hard to find, in fact, that I had never seen or heard of it until I was contacted by La Cremerie Royale, an online fromagerie that specializes in delivering extremely high-end and rare cheeses. Now that it's grown difficult for me to find cheeses I haven't yet tasted in shops here in Paris, I need to rely on trips outside the city, the very occasional new cheese in a random shop, or the incredible kindness of strangers, like Sébastien, co-founder of La Cremerie Royale, who takes it upon himself to introduce me to some new cheeses. And not just new: fabulous. The business is predicated on supplying customers with ultra-high-end, often rare cheeses that have graced the tables of the rich and royal.

THE CONNECTION:

Like the fountains around Paris -- both permanent and temporary for Paris Plage -- a "source" is a source of water. The source that this cheese is named after is alongside the Drôme river, not the Seine, which is the source of about half of Parisians' tap water.

Brique des Sources is not an actual brick from the spring. And Eau de Paris (Paris Water) is not actually spring water ("eau de source"). It is, rather, water from the Seine (cleaned many, many times; don't worry). Paris water tastes just fine, and there really is no reason to buy bottled. On hot days in Paris, I'm very grateful when I come upon a fountain I can use to refill my bottle.

2 comments :

  1. Very interesting! Of course Paris would have sparkling water on tap. I would expect nothing less.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you are looking for a great water filter that goes above and beyond the call of duty, the Amway water filter is an excellent choice. water filter

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