How to locate free drinking water fountains near you in France

Paris even has some points which offer sparkling water

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There are several ways to locate free public drinking fountains for a cheaper – and greener – way to stay hydrated when out and about.

Some cities have a list on their websites. For example, you can find Lyon’s at Eau du Grand Lyon’s website.

Apps such as FreeTaps show public drinking fountains and restaurants where owners will give a free glass of water to non-customers.

Water-Map, created by the charity Europe Water Project to promote tap water over bottled, has more than 280,000 water points listed on its app, mostly in Europe.

Both are collaborative apps, depending on input from the public to update information.

Website Eau Cyclisme shows cyclists where they can fill up their water bottles during a ride but can be used by anyone for the same purpose.

It has 4,300 places listed in France and says most towns have public toilets near their marketplace, mairie or tourist office with drinking water.

Ask for a ‘carafe’ in restaurants for free water

Since January 1, 2022, establishments open to more than 300 members of the public and already linked to a water supply are supposed to provide at least one drinking water fountain per 300 people and make clear where they are.

This should include shopping centres, big supermarkets, museums, airports and railway stations. However, it seems that the measure has not been implemented as of August 2023.

In restaurants, tap water is included in the price of a meal so you can always ask for this instead of paying for a bottle of mineral water. This has been law since 1967.

Bistros and cafes must clearly indicate on the menu or a noticeboard that customers can ask for free water.

In Paris, even water fountains can get fancy

In 2020 in Paris, the water board Eau de Paris launched an initiative to encourage shops, businesses and restaurants to let people fill up water bottles for free.

Participating venues will show a sticker in the window: ‘Ici je choisis l’eau de Paris. Je remplis ma gourde’. There are currently 850 participating businesses.

With its 1,200 drinking points, Paris hopes to eliminate the need for plastic bottles by 2024 and the summer Olympics. Most of these drinking fountains can be found on Google Maps, but the app may occasionally confuse them with decorative fountains.

Among them are also 17 fountains where regular water is cooled down and injected with bubbles on-site to provide sparkling water.

These stations were first introduced in 2010 and have since popped up in public parks around the city. There is a map of these fountains at this link.

See below a picture of the fountain in Parc Andre Citroen in the 15th Arrondissement.

The sparkling water fountain in Parc Andre Citroen in the 15th Arrondissement Pic: Street View data ©2023 Google