If you plan on visiting or relocating to France, one of the most important things to know is whether you can drink tap water. One common misconception in France is that tap water is unsafe to drink, owing to the prevalence of mineral water.

However, except in a few cities where contamination may exist, tap water in France is safe to drink. According to WHO data, 99% of French cities have clean and safe drinking water from improved sources.

Rivers and aquifers supply approximately half of the water consumed in France. Paris, France’s one of the most visited cities, has the most water concerns.

Six Things You Have To Know About Tap Water In France

Can you drink tap water in France? Here’s the answer, as well as some other helpful hints.

Safe

The first thing to mention is that tap water in France is generally perfectly safe to drink. People in some areas of the county with particularly hard water frequently purchase filters to save their kettles, but the water itself is safe and clean.

Free

Free drinking water is also widely available; most cities have water fountains, some of which include sparkling water. If you see a tap labelled Eau non-potable, it means the water is unsafe to drink, such as the hydrants used by Paris street cleaners. However, most tap water is drinkable.

Customers in French cafés, bars, and restaurants were legally required to receive free tap water from January 1, 2022. The new law requires “food and beverage establishments to visibly and mention on their menu or on any display space for consumers to request free drinking water.” French authorities encourage people to stay hydrated during heatwaves by filling their bottles at free water fountains.

Socially Acceptable

Unlike in some countries, such as Germany, ordering water with your meal is perfectly acceptable instead of wine in cafés or restaurants.

In fact, ordering only water with your meal is more acceptable than ordering soda or coffee with your meal, which are considered ‘Anglo-Saxon’ habits. Most French restaurants will get you a carafe of tap water with a basket of bread as a complimentary addition to your meal.

Not Mineral

When ordering water, however, be cautious of what you request. If you simply ask for l’eau or d’eau, you will most likely be served mineral water, which can be more expensive than wine, particularly in tourist areas.

Unless you specifically request mineral water, request un pichet d’eau or une carafe d’eau, which guarantees tap water.

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Not Iced

If you want your water to have ice in it, you must specifically request it. Water – and soft drinks like Coca-Cola – are not typically served with ice in France, so you must specify that you want your water with ice.

It Varies Depending On Where You Are

There is also a regional variation in how people ask for water; pichet or carafe is fairly universal, but depending on where you are, you may also hear pot d’eau or cruche.

Where Does Your Tap Water Come From?

Public water utility providers serve the majority of homes in Europe, France, and North America. Their mission is to ensure that the general public, farms, and industries have access to safe drinking water. In terms of content, testing, treatment, and reporting, these are strictly regulated by the EPA and EU (as well as local regulators). In fact, much more than most countries’ bottled water companies. A safety buffer is used to set the Maximum Allowable Level (MAL) for each substance monitored.

Public water supply companies use chlorine or chloramine to keep pathogens at bay. Prior to this, the water is usually filtered with activated carbon, the pH is sometimes adjusted, and small amounts of chemicals are frequently added to control pipe corrosion. Phosphates, silicates, calcium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium carbonate are just a few examples.

If your local water provider says the water is safe, it is extremely unlikely that it will make you sick. At least for the time being. Consumption of chlorine bi-products, low concentrations of heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and unregulated substances (e.g., microplastics) that are still present may pose a risk in the long run. This is true for babies and children. But the truth is that we do not know how serious the threat is.

If you get water from a local well, you should have it tested by a lab before deciding on the best water filter for your needs.

How Does Your Tap Water Get To Your Faucet From The Water Provider?

After being treated and tested, the water is released into the public water supply. This entails large main pipelines that supply water to each neighbourhood, followed by smaller ones to each building. Pipes are typically made of cast iron, copper, steel, or PVC/PEX. However, prior to the 1920s, some mains and service lines were made of lead. Water infrastructure is not a major source of contamination unless the pipes contain lead.

What Are The Issues With The Water That Comes From Your Tap?

Finally, tap water enters your structure, whether it’s a detached house or multiplex housing. There are several potential areas of concern here, including

  • Water storage tanks as these may cause bacteria growth even if the water is chlorinated – common for really tall buildings and in countries where water disruptions are common (e.g. Mexico)
  • Water left in pipes or water filters for an extended period of time (days) may cause bacteria growth or other types of corrosion.

One common issue is the failure to maintain and replace water filters. We discovered that many households with reverse osmosis and pitcher carafes consume filtered tap water that is inferior to unfiltered tap water. Bacteria grows inside the filters and tanks, and contaminants accumulate over time, clogging the filters. As a result, it is critical to always ensure that the filters are maintained and replaced as directed.

After a long vacation, the water pipes and filters should always be flushed, and used filters should be replaced.

What Does The Tap Water Taste Like?

Taste and odour are possibly the most important factors to consider. Even if the water is safe for consumption, it may taste or smell unpleasant. This is frequently an issue with hard water combined with chlorine or chloramine, but there could be a variety of other issues.

However, the taste is subjective. Water that tastes great to one person may taste flat, tasteless, or strong to another.

As a result, taste is a key factor to consider when selecting a water filter.

Who’s Drinking The water?

This is the final but not least factor to consider.

Chemical sensitivity is much higher in healthy adults than in infants, children, and people with special medical conditions. This includes heavy metals, but it also includes nitrates, chlorine bi-products, pathogens, and, most likely, microplastics. As a result, it is advised to exercise greater caution when dealing with children and the elderly.

Another factor is psychological. Some people find that knowing their family is safer makes them feel better.

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Why Do You Need A Water Filter?

Public tap water is generally considered safe to drink in North America and Europe. However, this does not imply that it tastes good or that the water from your faucet is healthy.

According to multiple studies, bottled water is worse for your health than tap water because it contains microplastics and hormone disruptors. There is substantial evidence that plasticizers in beverage and food packaging disrupt hormones, affecting reproduction and increasing the risk of miscarriage. Furthermore, bottled water may contain the same contaminants as public tap water, such as PFAS, arsenic, and bacteria. Finally, the manufacture and disposal of water bottles are extremely harmful to the environment.

An affordable and high-quality water filter is a great option for ensuring you drink healthy water.

How Can You Know That The Water Filter Works?

Unfortunately, many water filters are sold with unsubstantiated claims about their efficiency. As a result, you must always demand an independent lab report to back up the claims made by the water filter brand or manufacturer. NSF certification is a good place to start in the United States, but there is no such standard in Europe. Furthermore, most filters are only NSF-42 certified, which means that they reduce chlorine but not anything else.

The independent lab test of EcoPro is an example of a good certification.

What’s The Best Water Filter For Your Needs?

Despite some general rules and guidelines, the best option is often determined by the needs of each household. This comprises

  • Where you live and local water quality – Do you have access to potable public water? Are the building’s pipes old? Is the water very hard and highly chlorinated, or are specific local contaminants causing a problem?
  • Young children or infants – If you have young children, you should take extra precautions because they are more sensitive to contaminants like lead, nitrate, or microplastics.
  • Do you have a standard kitchen or a fancy design kitchen? Do you want a product that you can use in the kitchen? Or do you prefer a product that is simple to install and remove?
  • Plumbing abilities – If you are a weekend plumber, you will have many more options for installing a system. Most people avoid touching pipes due to the risk of causing leaks and other damage.

A jug or faucet water filter is great, affordable, and best for most households. If you have the extra cash, an under-the-sink or whole-house filter could be a good solution.

Where Does The Water Come From In Paris?

The majority of the water in Paris is derived from underground sources or aquifers. Because the water in those reservoirs comes from natural disasters, it does not affect the water table.

However, the water from those sources is unsafe to drink directly and must be filtered using several methods, including ultra-filtration and activated carbon.

One of the most unusual aspects of Paris is that it has two distinct water systems that should not be mixed. Each water system has a different purity level and is used for different purposes.

One of the water systems is for drinking water, while the other is for cleaning the city streets and flushing toilets. The water system for tap water is filtered, whereas the other is not.

Can You Drink Paris’s Tap Water?

Is it totally safe to drink water from the tap in Paris? What is the flavour like? What are the most common contaminants and issues associated with tap water? Should you drink bottled water in Paris, boil it, or use a water filter?

If you’re visiting, relocating to, or living in Paris or anywhere in France, you may wonder whether tap water is safe to drink. We will try to address all of your concerns and questions in this article.

Where Does The Paris Tap Water Come From?

The local water provider is Eau de Paris. It ensures that safe drinking water is available at every tap in the metropolitan area. Half of the water consumed in Paris comes from rivers, while the other half comes from underground sources (aquifers). Most underground capturing is caused by natural disasters and does not affect water table levels. The river water is drawn from the Seine and Marne rivers upstream of Paris. Because this water is not potable at the source, it must be filtered through multiple layers, including activated carbon and ultra-filtration.

One unusual feature of Paris is that it has two water supply systems.

Each serves a different purpose and has varying levels of purity.

  • One is for tap water and 
  • Second is unfiltered water that is used for flushing and cleaning the streets.

So, there is no mixing of water from the two systems. Therefore, don’t be concerned about drinking Paris tap water; it’s safe and tastes good. Visit Le Pavillon de l’eau to learn more about the Paris Water Supply.

Is Paris Tap Water Safe To Drink?

Indoor running water has been available in Paris since 1781, though only 125 houses were connected. Today’s tap water is far safer than it was back then. According to French, EU, and international standards, Paris tap water is safe to drink (WHO).

Over 200 samples are received and recorded daily at the Eau de Paris research and analysis laboratories, divided among various chemical, organic chemistry, bacteriology, and corrosion departments. These samples were obtained from a variety of sources. The water was taken by the laboratory teams who are part of the distribution system, and the Eaude Paris reservoirs in Paris and nearby suburbs were the first. Finally, samples are collected from individual households to ensure that the water flowing from the faucet is safe to drink.

Nitrates are one substance that is closely monitored. Excessive consumption, particularly by infants and young children, has health consequences if it degrades into nitrites in the body. Water potability is conditioned by the European quality standard (50 mg/l). It was determined using a prevention principle to protect the quality of resources utilised to provide drinking water while also considering the various sources of food exposure. Throughout the year, Paris water has a content ranging from 20 to 38 mg/l, which is below the norm. As a result, adults face no or little risk from nitrates. Many foods naturally contain nitrates (charcuterie, vegetables, fruits, etc.). However, you should use a water filter for infants because even trace amounts of nitrate can harm their health.

Microplastics were discovered in 72% of water samples collected in Paris. There are currently no official limits or regulations, but it is unlikely to be healthy.

Locals and authorities swear that allowing the drinking water to “breathe” will remove the chlorine taste and odour. Simply place your tap water in an empty water bottle in the fridge for a couple of hours. This will allow the odour to escape. Alternatively, for clean, tasty tap water straight from the tap, use a water filter like the EcoPro by TAPP Water.

Eau de Paris has a great English brochure for tap water in Paris.

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What Is The Content Of Minerals In Paris Tap Water?

The water hardness in Paris is between 20 and 30 degrees (80-120 mg/L calcium). This is considered near the hard water limit and will result in some limescale.

The daily consumption of one litre of Paris water covers 10% of the daily calcium needs and 25% for a child. It is, on average, close to natural mineral waters (80 to 100 mg/l). The average sodium concentration in Paris water is ten mg/l. As a result, it is appropriate for people following a low-sodium diet.

What Are The Potential Problems With Tap Water In Paris?  

The tap water in Paris is generally safe to drink. But according to EU standards and WHO, there are some known risks, such as

  • Microplastics – Microplastics have been found in the majority of European tap water. Even if it is significantly less expensive than bottled water, it is most likely not healthy.
  • Chlorine bi-products – A problem with water chlorination is the formation of bi-products when chlorine reacts with organic substances. These are generally kept within water supplier standards, but they are mostly unknown in terms of HAA and THMs.
  • Lead – This is unlikely to be found unless you reside in a very old building with pipes that haven’t been replaced in 50 years.
  • Pipe corrosion/leaching – Other than lead, the risks of pipe corrosion are generally regarded as minor, but it can result in issues such as murky or yellow tap water. If this is the case, you should report it. Remember, a water filter reduces the need to flush the pipes regularly.
  • Pesticides, nitrates, and other substances below regulated limits – While the regulated amount is safe for adults, we know less about exposure to children and infants. As a result, EWG believes that the regulated limits should be reduced.

According to a recent report, over 12 million people in France were exposed to pesticides in tap water. It was above the regulated level in the previous year.

Do You Have To Get A Water Filter In Paris?

There are certain reasons why one must use a water filter in Paris:

  1. Taste – Immediately removing the chlorine will improve the taste of the water.
  2. Infants/small children – As previously stated, small humans are more sensitive, so getting water through a water filter can be a good idea to keep the family safe.

What Filter Should You Use In France?

We recommend EcoPro, EcoPro Compact, and PitcherPro as the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective options. You can learn more about Brita vs TAPP and PUR, as well as Culligan vs TAPP, to see how water filters compare.

What About Bottled Water In France?

When you ask for water, most waiters and waitresses in restaurants, bars, and cafes will offer bottled water first. Because of taste preferences and health concerns, many Parisians drink bottled water at home. There is no evidence, however, that bottled water is healthier than tap water.

Bottled water is available in shops and restaurants throughout the city. Evian, Vittel, Volvic, Badoit, Contrex, and Hèpar are included.

OrbMedia conducted tests in 2018 and discovered that 93% of bottled water brands contained microplastics. Some contain as many as 10,000 particles per litre.

For Additional Information About The Best Water Filters

Conclusion 

Tap water in France, especially in Paris, is generally considered high quality and safe to drink. Suppose you want better-tasting water or have concerns about the water quality, then use a high-quality faucet water filter such as EcoPro or PitcherPro by TAPP Water. Bottled water is not healthier and should be avoided if possible.