Fontaine du Palmier

Orientation & Geography

Europe, France, Paris

The Fontaine du Palmier (1806-1808) is a monumental fountain located in the Place du Châtelet, between the Théâtre du Châtelet et the Théâtre de la Ville, in the First Arrondissement of Paris. It was designed to provide fresh drinking water to the population of the neighborhood and to commemorate the victories of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is the largest of the fountains still existing built during Napoleon's reign. The Fountain de Palmier was one of a series of fifteen fountains commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to his minister of the Interior, Emmanuel Cretet. It was designed by the engineer François-Jean Bralle, who was in charge of the Paris fountains and water supply during the First Empire. (See Fountains in Paris). It was finished in 1808. The column, modeled after a Roman triumphal column, takes its name from the sculpted palm leaves at the top, commemorating Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign. The bands of bronze on the column pay tribute to Napoleon's victories at the siege of Danzig (1807, Prussia), the Battle of Ulm (1805, Austria), the Battle of Marengo (1800, Italy), the Battle of the Pyramids (1798, Egypt), and the Battle of Lodi (1796,Italy). At the top of the column is a statue of Victory made of gilded bronze, carrying the laurels of victory. The statue is the work of the sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot. The present statue is a copy; the original is in the courtyard of the Carnavalet Museum of the history of Paris. Around the base of the column are four statues representing Vigilance, Justice, Strength and Prudence, also made by Boizot. The lower basin of the fountain, designed by architect Gabriel Davioud, was added to the fountain in 1858 during the reign of Emperor Louis Napoleon. At that time the base was also decorated with statues of Egyptian sphinxes spouting streams of water, sculpted by Henri Alfred Jacquemart. The fountain was listed as an historic monument of France in 1952.