Drinking their water would make you fall in love, according to legend. It won’t be for this year! Due to the exceptional drought, this village in the south of France has emptied the basins that make it famous. “You no longer hear this gentle lapping at every street corner”: in Pernes-les-Fontaines, a medieval town in the -East of France famous for its 41 fountains, the basins are empty but the tourists remain understanding in front of an exceptional dryness. Two thirds of metropolitan France were declared in a crisis situation this summer. “The water restrictions began in April but we had so far retained the authorization to run water at a reduced flow in some fountains. Since the end of July, it’s been a complete stop, the prefecture has placed us in a crisis situation for the drought”, explains Guilhem Millet, head of the tourist office of this city of 9,000 inhabitants. Nicknamed “The Pearl of Comtat” for its past as the capital of Comtat Venaissin, a former papal state in the Middle Ages, Pernes-les-Fontaines has 41 fountains inside its old ramparts. They give every street corner a bucolic atmosphere that attracts tourists. Especially since public fountains are complemented by as many private fountains in former mansions. “These fountains are an asset for the city. But tourists, mainly French and Europeans, are not surprised that they are no longer flowing this summer (…) given the drought which does not only affect France, ”explains Guilhem Millet. “These empty fountains are heartbreaking, but we completely understand these kinds of restrictions, everyone has to play the game,” confirms Christine Mercel, a tourist from Ain who came with her husband and daughter. in Pernes for the fountains. 15th century fountains The first fountains in the village were built in the 15th century. But it was in 1936 that the municipal council voted to change the name of the village from “Pernes” to “Pernes-les-Fontaines”. There were 36 at the time. Since then, the village has become accustomed to water restrictions. “Every summer, we cut the fountains, fed by the running water pipes because of the drought. Usually, it lasts three or four days, a week at the most. There is always a storm, a rain to restore the balance”, explains the person in charge of the office of tourism. “What is particular this year, it is the duration. Local meteorologists say that since the first rainfall records in the Vaucluse in 1871, the level has never been so low. Only 93 mm of water has fallen in the department since the start of the year, whereas it would take 270 mm to have a correct level,” he said. “Tradition says that drinking the water from our fountains makes you fall in love. An anecdote that usually encourages tourists to use them”, but this summer they are deprived of it. SEE ALSO – More skiing at the Stelvio glacier after the heat wave in Italy
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