Friday, April 20, 2018

Fountains Galore

The city where we're staying, Aix en Provence, is filled with fountains. It has its roots as a Roman spa town, so that's probably why it is filled with water bubbling out of pipes.
As I chugged up the street toward the end of my morning run one day recently, I noticed the delightful water dancing in the sunlight.
In spite of the joy it brings me each day when I run past it, this fountain doesn't make the map. 
That's when I decided that we would follow the town map to find all the fountains they list as sights worth seeing. The local map only lists 12 fountains, and apparently there are hundreds. As we made our way around town, about 10,000 steps, following the map, we learned that some of our favorite fountains aren't listed, but I thought I'd share with you the 12 fountains suggested by the tourism office.
Number 1 of course is the fountain at "La Rotonde" that's a roundabout at the end of the Cours Mirabeau, a famous street in Aix.
Earl ventured across the road to the construction barriers to pose with this fountain.
Aix is undergoing a lot of construction right now, so the whole fountain is surrounded by barriers and equipment.
We moved up the street to number 2, "Fontaine Des 9 Canons" which is the oldest on the Cours Mirabeau, built in 1691 for nearby nuns to use.

The nun's fountain. 
Even though it isn't known as the mossy fountain, it has begun to be encapsulated by moss, probably because the water is warm.
The third fountain on the street is known as "Mossy" and has always been covered in moss. It brings in water from a hot spring and was built in 1734.
This fountain is famous for its warm water and its moss. 
At the end of the street is the Fontaine du Roi René built in 1819. Let me tell you, this statue shows a much more handsome King René than the painting I found online. Maybe it just wasn't a very good
artist. I think, although he was never King of France, he made sure that Provence would join France after his death. In the statue he's holding some muscat grapes that are grown in Provence.
Earl sitting at the king's feet
The next fountain, in the square where the mayor's office and the clock tower are located, is encased in plastic so apparently is under construction. Earl made me pose with it anyway.
Me examining what might be behind those wrappings.
Down the next side street, we followed the map to "Fontaine Amado" which is named after the artist Jean Amado, but the fountain was only built in 1977. We did discover a lot of new restaurants down this road, but when we went back today for lunch, we learned that a lot of tours send their clients this way for lunch. We weren't impressed with the food unfortunately.

Earl stands manfully at the edge of the fountain. Okay, from this angle it doesn't look much different than the mossy fountain
The next fountain was built into a wall, and we walked around the square a couple of times trying to make sure we took a picture of the correct one at Place de l'archeveche (archbishop).
We almost missed this fountain
We had passed and photographed the eighth fountain many times while traversing the town. It apparently is in the style of squares in Paris and is called Fontaine d'Albertas. A lot of school girls had settled on the steps to eat their lunch as we wandered up. And by this time, I was getting a bit peckish  myself.
Me perched on the edge of the fountain. Good thing part of the railing had fallen off.
"How many fountains do we have to go?" I asked. "Want to stop and eat?"
Earl encouraged me to keep going so we went to Fontaine des 3 Ormeaux. When I searched for the word ormeaux, the translation said "abalone." But that makes no sense.

Earl and the empty fountain
 In the history of Aix, it says the square is known for its shady plane trees and used to have a vegetation market, so maybe ormeaux is connected to the trees and the plants. The fountain was dry, but the square was shady, as promised in the brochure. It was built in the 17th century.
Then we had to traverse to the other side of town to find the next fountain, "Fontaine des 4 dauphins." Okay, the name and the fountain for this one made sense to me.
Dolphins, of course.
It seems quite an upscale square.
There were two more fountains to find and they were far.
"We don't really have to find those do we?" I asked Earl, who had joined in with the whole treasure hunt idea and wasn't ready to give up. But keep in mind that I had already run five miles that morning.
If I had looked at the explanation on the map, I would have known what we were looking for, but I only looked at the dots on the map and went traipsing toward the bus depot.
One of the main ideas of this fountain hunt was to see new parts of Aix and to rely solely on a paper  map. Too often when end up using GPS on our phones so our map-reading skills have suffered.
And it was on this grumpy and hot stage of the journey that we had a few spats about which direction to go.
We cut through an unfamiliar street that had some enormous book covers stacked up like books for the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk.
Oversized books -- not for coffee tables
We walked up the steps of an apartment building and turned expecting the fountain to be there. We heard the sounds from the walkway, but, nope. We retraced our steps and then read the description on the map. Wall of water.
The wall of water "fountain"
We were walking parallel to it. The water ran down the overpass and then was pumped to the top again for another furious race down the concrete.
Earl posing with the wall of water in the background.
On the opposite side of the wall of water, was the wall of plants. 22,000 plants on this wall.
22000 plants growing on a wall
Truthfully, on the day of our search, I was too tired to walk down the hill and get a picture of the wall of plants, but I got one a few days later on a run. I rationalized that we had actually found all the fountains we were looking for, because why would a concrete overpass with plants be considered a fountain.
Look, I was whipped.
Finally, we went for lunch to help rejuvenate  me for any further fountain hunting that might come my way.
But I was disappointed that some of my favorite fountains weren't included, especially this one:

What's not to love about this wild boar spurting water? 


Anonymous said...

This is an excellent collection of fountains!
You must read/see Manon des Sources, the book by Pagnol, the movie by Claude Berri with Emmanuel Béart, Gérard Depardieu and Daniel Auteuil. Kind of gives the importance of fountains.

Philippe said...

Bonjour Paulita ! La ville d' Aix-en- Provence est vraiment très belle et vos photos nous font visiter tous les recoins de cette commune.Vous et Earl semblez de plus en plus heureux de vivre en France ! A propos de le fontaine des 3 Ormeaux il faut savoir que " Ormeau " se traduit par " Abalone " in English et c' est un coquillage appelé aussi " Oreille de mer ".// Hello Paulita! the city of Aix-en-Provence is really very nice and your pictures let us visiting every nook and cranny of it. You and Earl seem to be more and more happy to live in France! About of the Fontaine des " 3 Ormeaux "you should know that " Ormeau " translates, as you said, into " Abalone" in English and it means " Shellfish" and also called " Sea-ear".Have a good time in Aix with summer like weather all over France this week-end!

Philippe said...

Er. Better to read " A propos de LA Fontaine...".I don't want to disturb you as you are trying to improve your french language skills! I am sure you are becoming quite fluent after 4 months among french surroundings.

Paulita said...

Francetaste, Thanks for the recommendation. I think I've seen the movie in English, Manon of the Spring, right? I should watch it in French and look for the book though.
Philippe, Thanks. I wish my French was improving as quickly as it should, but I have so few interactions with French people unless I'm in a store or restaurant, and then I basically have the same conversation over and over. When we move to our long-term house, I better set up French conversation with someone. Thanks for your encouragement and your recommendation.

Sim Carter said...

Enjoyed the fountain tour ... the nun's fountain is my favorite. I saw none of these when we whisked into Aix looking for tea towels on our way back to Paris!

I also liked hearing that you and Earl have the occasional directional spat. Mark and I had a couple of doozies over directions, I guess most of us do in confusing places where we feel a little helpless!

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