Original and copy: the Wallace fountain (Paris)

There is the one in Banhnofstrasse, between Globus and the Apple Store. And, there is this one in Paris, in 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, right in front of Shakespeare and Company. Actually, there are lots of these deep green cast-iron fountains all over Paris. They were designed in 1875 by Charles-Auguste Lebourg, and named after its sponsor, the English art collector Richard Wallace.  The fountains were one of Wallace’s many contributions to Paris heritage, and were created to offer a reliable source of clean drinking water to the Parisians.

Strictly speaking, you don’t have to go to  37 Rue de la Bûcherie to see a Wallace Fountain – all you need to do is walk around Paris. But, Shakespeare and Company is definitely worth the trip to Rue de la Bûcherie. Serving as both a bookstore and a reading library, it was once described by George Whitman, its owner, as a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.  Ever since 1951, it has offered room and board to both writers and readers, the only rule being that they read a book a day. A estimated 50 000 writers, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and William S. Burroughs have slept in the Shakespeare and Company hotel. Others, like Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin and Lawrence Durrell  were also friends and customers.

One of the most interesting and fascinating places I have ever been.

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