Can you drink the tap water in Paris? How does it taste? What are the common contaminants and other issues with tap water? Should you buy bottled water, boil the water or use a water filter in Paris?
If you’re visiting Paris, moving to Paris or living in Paris you might wonder if the tap water in Paris is safe to drink. In this article we will try to address all your questions and concerns.
Where does the tap water in Paris come from?
Eau de Paris is the local water provider responsible for providing safe drinking water to every tap in the metropolitan area. Half of the water Parisians consume comes from rivers and the other half from underground sources (aquifers). Most of the underground capturing is from natural emergencies with no impact on water table levels. The river water is capture from Seine and Marne upstream from Paris. This water is not considered potable at the source so it must go through multiple layers of filtering including activated carbon and ultra-filtration.
One very unusual thing about Paris is that there are two water supply systems. Each serves different purposes with varying purity levels. (1) is for tap water and (2) is unfiltered water that is used for cleaning and flushing the streets. There is no mixing of water from the two systems, so don’t worry when you drink Paris tap water; it is safe and I like the taste. If you want to know more about the Paris Water Supply visit Le Pavillon de l’eau (Paris has got to be one of the only cities with an entire museum devoted to its water and water supply).
Is Paris tap water safe to drink?
There have been indoor running water in Paris since 1781, albeit there were only 125 houses connected at that point. The tap water today is much safer than it was back then. Paris tap water is considered safe to drink according to French, EU and international standards (WHO).
Every day at the Eau de Paris research and analysis laboratories receive and record over 200 samples which divided among different chemical, organic chemistry, bacteriology, and corrosion departments. These samples come from a variety of sources. First, there is the water taken by the laboratory teams from the distribution system and from the Eaude Paris reservoirs in the city and nearby suburb. Finally, samples are also taken from individual households to ensure the water coming out of the tap is safe to drink.
One substance that is closely monitored is Nitrates. Excessive consumption - especially by infants and young children - has health drawbacks if they break down into nitrites in the body. The quality standard (50mg/l) of European origin, conditions the potability of water. It was determined under a principle of prevention to protect the quality of resources used to provide drinking water and taking into account the different sources of food exposure. Paris water with a content ranging from 20 to 38 mg/l during the year is below the norm. Therefore poses no or little risk for adults in terms of nitrates. Nitrates are naturally present in many foods (charcuterie, vegetables, fruits, etc.). However, for infants you may want to use a water filter since even small amounts of nitrate may have negative health impact.
Microplastics have been found in 72% of water samples taken in Paris. Currently, there is no official limits or regulation but it’s unlikely to be healthy.
Locals and authorities both swear by letting the drinking water to “breathe” to get rid of the taste and scent of chlorine. Simply put your tap water in a water bottle, without a lid, and leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours. This will let the smell escape. Or use a water filter such as EcoPro by TAPP Water for clean tasty tap water straight fromt the tap.
Eau de Paris provides a great brochure in English about Paris tap water.
What is the mineral content of Paris tap water?
The hardness of the water in Paris is between 20 and 30 degrees French (80-120 mg/L of calcium). This is considered just on the limit to hard water and will cause some limescale.
With an average close to some natural mineral waters (80 to 100 mg/l), the daily consumption of one liter of Paris water covers 10% of our daily calcium needs and 25% for a child. Paris water contains an average of 10 mg/l of sodium. It is, therefore, suitable for people on a low-sodium diet.
What are the potential issues with tap water in Paris?
Although the Paris tap water is safe to drink according to WHO and EU standards there are some known risks including
- Microplastics - Most tap water in Europe have been found to contain microplastics. Even if it’s considerably less than bottled water it’s most likely not healthy.
- Chlorine bi-products - One issue with water chlorination is the bi-products formed when chlorine reacts with organic substances. Generally, these are kept within standards from the water supplier but there is a big unknown in terms of THMs and HAA
- Lead - This is unlikely to be found unless you live in a very old building where the pipes have not been replaced in 50 years.
- Pipe corrosion/leaching - The risks of pipe corrosion are generally deemed as small other than lead but it may cause issues such as murky or yellow tap water. If so, you should report it. A water filter also reduces the need to constantly flushing the pipes.
- Nitrates, pesticides and other substances that are below regulated limits - Although safe for adults at the regulated amount we know less about exposure to infants and children. According to EWG the regulated limits should, therefore, be reduced.
A recent report showed that over 12 million people in France have been exposed to pesticides in the tap water above the regulated level in the past year.
Do you need a water filter in Paris?
There are a couple of reasons to use a water filter in Paris:
- Taste - removing the chlorine will make the water taste better instantly
- Infants/small children - as per above small human beings are more sensitive and therefore it might be a good idea to use a water filter for Paris to keep your family safe.
What filter should you use in France?
Read more about how to choose the best faucet water filter for you?
What about bottled water in France?
Most waiters and waitresses in restaurants, bars and cafes will offer bottled water first when you ask for water. A lot of Parisians also consume bottled water at home due to taste preferences and health concerns. However, there is no evidence that bottled water is healthier than tap water.
Bottled water can be purchased in stores and restaurants throughout the city. This includes brands such as Evian, Vittel, Volvic, Badoit, Contrex, and Hèpar.
Based on the tests carried out by OrbMedia in 2018 93 % of the bottled water brands were found to contain microplastics. Some with up to 10,000 particles per liter.
- Tap water in Paris is generally considered high quality and safe to drink
- If 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