Skip Vichy, Make a Pilgrimage to Paris for the Free Sparkling Water Fountains

Parisians have yet again cornered the market on being effortlessly chic: City officials just installed public fountains dispensing free bubbly water in each and every arrondissement.

The public sparkling water fountains are a community initiative to “encourage residents to stay hydrated and reduce plastic waste,” according to Vogue. An experimental program in 2010 received such positive feedback that Paris just expanded the government initiative, installing at least one sparkling water fountain in a local park or green space in each of the 20 arrondissements (or neighborhoods) around the fashionable French metropolis.

Liberty, egalite, free eau pétillante!

Antique illustration of a Ozouf apparatus for fizzy water production. Original, created by Javandier and Hildibrand, was published on L’Eau, by G. Tissandier, Hachette, Paris, 1873

(Image credit: marzolino/Shutterstock)

Far from frivolous, our thirst for carbonated water has hit peak saturation and is now a $2 billion and growing industry globally — the ecological impact of which is growing just as significantly, thanks to all those cans and bottles of fizzy water.

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of best-selling do-it-yourself seltzer brand SodaStream (which sells 3 million units annually, the majority of them in Europe) recently told Fortune that “the rise of premium brands of bottled carbonated waters is the biggest marketing and advertising scam of all time” and extraordinarily wasteful in an ecological sense.

While the fountains themselves (peeped here on Instagram) might not look nearly as pretty as one would expect considering the product and, well, Paris, the content output is still sure to make your travel picnic next level stylish, as well as more affordable and more sustainable.

Just how big a business is our thirst for sparkling water? Consider this:

Topo Chico, the ubiquitously salty mineral water from Mexico beloved by Texans for generations, was recently bought by Coca-Cola for $220 million, as Eater reports. Back in June, the Internet just could not with the news that two iconic 1980s sparkling water brands — Clearly Canadian and New York Seltzer — announced they were coming back to market thanks to venture capital investments, according to Food & Wine. In the Northeast, the annual announcement of new Polar Seltzer flavors is as anxiously anticipated as the release of beaujolais each November in France — expanding their reach nationally this year with “mythically-inspired limited edition flavors,” says Delish. And, of course, La Croix has reached total Instagram saturation, “catapulting from near-oblivion to cult status in the matter of a couple of years,” says Business Insider.

The French — while maybe best known for their fashion and food — have also been early and often major players in the smart cities and sharing economy movements. They also cornered the market on being known for their water in Vichy several centuries ago, so this latest civic investment and innovation is in some ways just another logical matter of pride and public access to natural resources for the famously organic French.

h/t LA Times

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