Have you ever wondered what the most photographed fountain is on the French Riviera?
I have, so I set out to uncover which fountain is the most photographed in this region and it seems there are quite a few contenders that make the cut.
The winner though is far from a noble and gracious fountain with an unexciting past; quite the opposite – this marble and bronze masterpiece crafted in 1956 by Alfred Auguste Janniot has stirred up debate with Niçois residents since its inception.
The magnificent Fontaine du Soleil (The Sun Fountain) or Apollo’s Fountain as it is known locally, sits on the edge of Place Massena in Nice and has quite a controversial past.
About the Fontaine du Soleil
The fountain was unveiled in 1956 to a less-than-warm reception in Nice. It seems that Apollo’s job was to carry the sun across the sky pulled by a chariot drawn by 4 horses – however, the Nice fountain didn’t have a chariot and the 4 horses were miniature statues atop his head. Not off to a good start with the locals.
The bad news didn’t stop there.
Apparently, Apollo’s ‘manhood’ was deemed immoral and too large by some conservative Nice citizens, so the sculptor took to his glory to resize things. This still proved to be inadequate to appease a local Catholic women’s league who gathered enough support to have Apollo (in all his nude splendour) and his naked bronze deities removed in the 1970’s.
Apollo was shipped off to a nearby location where he was less likely to offend anyone, and the 5 bronze statues representing Earth, Mars, Mercury, Saturn and Venus started to gather dust in a water treatment plant.
Many years later, a reporter was at the water purification plant and was intrigued by the statues. Huge public interest followed and after a €90,000 facelift Apollo was reinstated in 2011 on his fountain to watch over Nice.
Where to find the Fontaine du Soleil
The fountain is centrally located on the edge of Place Massena and Vieux Nice. It is easily found and the ground surface is flat and paved (baby stroller and wheelchair-friendly), and it is near to the tramway and main Nice bus hub. Other nearby attractions are the Promenade du Peillon green area and children’s playground, MAMAC art gallery, Vieux Nice and Promenade des Anglais.
Here are 6 of the other most photographed fountains on the French Riviera:
Image credits: Casino de Monte-Carlo (geolocation), Place Massena (Homeaway), Fontaine Clemenceau (Wikimedia). All other images Access Riviera