There is a wonderful story behind the waters of Istres. Meeting a variety of needs throughout history, water played an important role in the town’s development. It has 5 ponds and a large number of ancient springs and fountains.
Istres has always been an exclusive place, providing a total of 16 springs with large and average flow-rates and 59 smaller springs. The drinkable groundwater from the springs or resurgences of the hills and Crau area, found in all corners of the land, allowed our ancestors to live here with ease. Also, canals stemming from the Durance River have watered the countryside of Istres for centuries. The remarkable canals of Craponne are highly used to grow the famous AOC hay, known as “foin de crau”.
However, despite the overall abundance of water in Istres, most of it is located in the lower parts of the region. This was a problem for the town located on top of the hill that did not have sufficient access to this natural resource. Since sources of drinking water were essential, specific structures were necessary starting from the early 20 century. Therefore, two castles were built in the town along with many fountains.
In total, 75 springs (81 in 1980) were listed and registered by Marius Vignolo. The most famous is Saint Martin spring where the blessing of the port and boats takes place every year during the “Fête de l’eau” (Water Festival).
These fountains were recently renovated and are considered an integral part of our town’s history. Today, you can still see the spring of Saint Catherine near the town centre, the fountain of the dragons on the Place des Bourras in the historic district, mossy fountains near the former town hall, the fountain of the former Hospice on Boulevard de la République, the fountain of the old agricultural cooperative on Boulevard Painlevé, and water parks on the new Jean Jaurès pathways.
Finally, the jet of water, forming a giant liquid flag and reaching a record high of 50m, symbolises this link between Istres and water. It unfolds the desire of an environmentally friendly and forward-looking town.