Sunday, 5 May 2013

The fountains of Aix en Provence

Aix en Provence has been given the nickname 'City of a thousand fountains', a name which it more than lives up to with its many beautiful and intricate marble sculpted fountains than can be found in nearly every square. The name 'Aix' comes from the Latin word 'aquae' meaning 'water' due to the town being built upon a thermal water source by its founder, Roman general Caius Sextius.

La fontaine Rotunde
The Rotunde fountain was built in 1860 and was the first in the town with a fonted basin. The three statues on top represent Justice, Agriculture and Fine Arts. This fountain has become the focal point of the town.

Fontaine de la Place des Precheurs
This fountain was built in 1758 by Chastel in the shape of an obelisk. On each of the four sides sits an effigy; Sextius Calvinus - the Roman founder of Aix, Charles III - last sovereign Count of Provence, Louis XV - reigning king at the time of construction, and Louis XVIII - last titular Count of Provence.

Fontaine des Augustines
Built in 1620, then reconstructed in 1820 by Aix architect Mr Beisson, as it has been used as a public lavatory since 1786. On the top of the granite column - material brought from the Gallo-Roman mausoleum in the palace of the counts of Provence - sits a copper, twelve pointed star. While three of its spouts pour non-drinkable water, one spout produces drinkable water.

La fontaine Saint Louis
This fountain was built in 1843 with a bust of Saint Louis atop it and the crest of the city of Aix on the base.

Fontaine de la Place des Tanneurs
In the 1800's this area of six streets became inhabited by tanneries which is why today this is called Tanners Street (Rue des Tanneurs). The fountain has stood since 1761 according to the plans of Georges Vallon, with the water coming from the town hall fountain. Due to aquatic plants and the pipes being too close to the ground and therefore being broken from being trampled by horse drawn carriages, the fountain was inactive for fifty years. In 1861 the city decided to restore the fountain. The vase on top of the fountain was sculpted by Jean Chastel.

La fontaine Marcello Drutel
This fountain was named after Marcello Drutel who was a Provencal poet.

La fontaine des neuf canons
Built by Laurent Vallon in 1691 the fountain was originally named 'La fontaine St Lazare' and was curved on all four sides but two of these were later cut to allow for vehicles. Its water was used by those at the religious house St Ursula and then later on, the Benedictines. In 1761 it was renovated and given the name 'Nine Cannons'. For forty years at the end of the 19th century, it had been in use as a drinking trough for cattle who were coming from the cattle market in Arles; this use explains why it has such a low basin.  

 La fontaine des Quatre Dauphins
Built in the Mazarin quarter of Aix in 1667 by the sculptor Jean-Claude Rambot. The statue atop the pyramid was originally a sculpture of Saint Michael, and has since been changed to a fleur de lys, a Maltese cross and finally, a pine cone that we see today.

La fontaine Place d'Albertas
Built in 1912 by engineers at the local Ecole des Arts et Metiers d'Aix en Provence, this fountain pays tribute to Marquis Jean-Baptiste d'Albertas who built the private residences on this square and also the gardens of the same name.

Fontaine de l'hotel de ville
Completed in 1757 by the sculptor Chastel, who was responsible in particular for the sculpting of a chapter of Corinthians from the Bible upon it, all in accordance with the designs of the architect Brun.

La fontaine Moussue
This iconic fountain on the Cours Mirabeau was constructed in 1667 by the architect Fosse. Originally it was adorned by a newt on the top, then this was changed three years later to four children holding a basin out of which poured the town's water, however this no longer stands and is simply a cube covered in moss. Ten years later this became a hot water fountain because the water from the fountain outside the boilermakers was diverted to this fountain. This water is not drinkable and it has long been forbidden for the housewives to wash their clothes in this fountain but they could draw water from it to wash the doorsteps and stairs of nearby buildings. Today, the water from this fountain is still running a hot 18 degrees, even in winter when the cold outdoor temperature caused steam to come from the fountain due to the collision of the two temperatures, giving it a mystical appearance.

La fontaine des Trois Ormeaux
Built in 1632, it is adorned with sculptures of fruits and flowers and shows the graceful architecture seen under Louis XVI.

La fontaine du Roi Rene
Standing at the very top of the Cours Mirabeau is this fountain which was built to commemorate the 600th anniversary of King Rene's birth in 2009. The actual statue which has been placed there was sculpted in 1822 by David d'Angers. The figure of King Rene is given books - to represent he was a man of great culture, spoke several languages and is the protector of the Arts, Sciences and Letters - as well as a bunch of Muscat grapes which he introduced to Aix en Provence.

Fontaine Gilly
Built in 1988 in honour of the sculpter Seraphin Gilly.

La fontaine Jouse d'Arbaud
This fountain was built to commemorate the Provencal poet Jouse d'Arbaud.

No comments:

Post a Comment