Chateau d’eau

Sunday, August 28th, 2016
  • Chateau d'eau

    I have this theory that almost everything sounds better when it’s given a French name, or when you just translate it into French. For example, a Cheese and tomato omelet with mushrooms sounds ok, but how much tastier does it sound when it’s an omelette aux tomates et champignons.

    Water towers are rather utilitarian structures, but the French call them Chateau d’eau, which literally translates to a castle of water. Given the abundance of grandiose castles, palaces, and stately homes in France, it’s a strange title to give these rather ugly water towers, but then that’s just so French.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t remember seeing that many water towers around the UK when I lived there. However, they’re all over the place in France, and I’ve seen them across the USA too. In France, they’re often well kept, decorated, and quite interesting from an architectural point of view.

    I’m not sure if this one, in the tiny village of Goindreville, is still active. The gauge just above its door seemed to indicate that it was practically empty.

    Just like the more gracious looking, water straining tower on Lake Vyrnwy in Wales, I often wonder what it might be like to convert one of these towers into a home or workspace. It would likely be pretty cramped and dark inside, and I bet buying suitable furniture would be a challenge.

    I haven’t yet come across a converted water tower in France, and while I did find a Chateau d’eau conversion in Belgium on the internet, I couldn’t find any in France. One thing I did manage to find though, was an old picture of this very water tower that looks like it might date back to the 1920’s or 30’s.

    See the water tower using Google street view.