ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
France is known for its wine, its food and its bottled water. There's Evian, Perrier. Well, now Paris is encouraging people to give up their bottles in favor of city tap water. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports on one way Paris is trying to make that water more appealing.
(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE)
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: A park guard blows his whistle to warn the gates will soon close at Parc Andre Citroen in the west of Paris. Before the park shuts for the night a handful of people, including artist Florian Roblain, are gathered around the water fountain, filling their containers.
FLORIAN ROBLAIN: I'm filling up my bottles with sparkling water. Sometimes people have 10 bottles. It's - how do we say? - ecologic. And of course it's cheap. When you come twice a week if you've got children, you become used to it. And it's a rhythm. It's part of your life.
BEARDSLEY: You heard it - a public fountain that serves up sparkling water. The city already has several, and it plans to add more in every arrondissement.
CELIA BLAUEL: Bonjour.
BEARDSLEY: Celia Blauel is deputy Paris mayor in charge of climate and water. She says Paris already has more than a thousand public fountains, but the city wants to make some of them more exciting by providing carbonated water.
BLAUEL: It's the idea to make people think about water, the idea that it's important to protect water and to make people change their habits and just trust that public water coming from the tap is good quality water. And then say when you drink it's like a political act. You're making something for you, for your health, but also for the planet.
BEARDSLEY: Blauel says Paris drinking water has long been known for its high quality. Half comes from underground wells and half from the Seine and Marne Rivers. She says when a family of four switches from bottles to tap water that's 12 fewer pounds of plastic waste a year. Bernard Buffon says he used to buy bottled fizzy water, but now he comes to the park.
BERNARD BUFFON: No, it's not a question of saving money. It's a question to have fresh air and have a walk in Paris. It's very nice.
BEARDSLEY: Each sparkling water fountain has several faucets. The water is chilled to 44 degrees Fahrenheit before the carbon dioxide is added. Retiree Claude Lelorain, who's having a drink after his jog, says the sparkling water is excellent.
CLAUDE LELORAIN: (Through interpreter) I think this is a remarkable initiative, but few Parisians know about it. But I do believe some restaurants are serving this water to their customers.
BEARDSLEY: Like many French people, 70-year-old Janine Kaluza alternates between different bottled waters to get all her minerals. She hasn't completely stopped buying bottled water, but says sparkling fountain water is now part of the mix.
JANINE KALUZA: (Through interpreter) Some waters are good for your liver. Sparkling water is good for your digestion. And Paris sparkling water is delicious. Yes. Yes.
BEARDSLEY: Kaluza says she drinks Paris bubbly two days a week, and it's one of the reasons she has no health problems at all. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.