'Eau de Paris': A perfume? A fine liqueur? No, just tap water

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The Independent Online

A new water brand name was presented to Parisians yesterday to rival Perrier and Evian - "Eau de Paris", the water in your tap.

A new water brand name was presented to Parisians yesterday to rival Perrier and Evian - "Eau de Paris", the water in your tap.

In an attempt to seduce the 53 per cent of Parisians who prefer expensive bottled water to cheap mains water, the city of Paris has decided to create a new image for its water utility.

Out goes the unlovely name Sagep, which stands for Société Anonyme de Gestion des Eaux de Paris or Parisian Water Management Company Limited. In comes the simple yet glamorous title Eau de Paris, worthy of an upmarket perfume.

The "new" product, already on tap in every kitchen and bathroom in the city, is being promoted by an advert showing crystal-clear water flowing into a glass and saying: "Parisians, you use me every day and you don't know who I am. That's understandable. There is no label on your tap."

The town hall has devised the campaign and name change to convince Parisians that there is no need to climb several flights of stairs to their apartments lugging packs of bottled water costing up to 300 times more than mains water.

The Socialist and Green majority on the city council argues that commercial mineral water is ecologically unsound because it is transported over long distances and sold in plastic bottles.

Much better, the council believes, that Parisians should drink tap water and save their euros.

Anne Le Strat, Green councillor and president of the water utility, says that she hopes to strike a blow for "sustainable development".

The Paris tap water has the same mineral content as branded bottled waters, she says. Its nitrate content is less than half of the permitted amount.

Admittedly, straight from the tap it has a sour, unpleasant taste, because it is heavily chlorinated (half of Parisian tap water comes from the Seine and Marne rivers and has to be processed before it can be drunk). Water officials argue that the chlorine taste disappears if you run the water into a glass jug and stand it in the fridge for a few hours.

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