The story of the Pelican Fountain is interesting for not every day is water turned into wine!!
Listed as a historic monument in 1942 (so some classification of monuments went on during the war…), the fountain in Pélissanne consists of a tall, smooth column topped by a partly Ionic, partly Corinthian capital. On top is a pelican in its nest nourishing, as it is wont, its offspring with its feathers.
The pelican is the creature shown on the town’s coat of arms. In Roman Catholicism it symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ shedding his blood to save mankind. Also from the symbolic point of view, the bird with its outstretched wings evokes aviation, an unmistakable reminder of the proximity of the Salon-de-Provence air base, flight school and preferred training ground of the Patrouille de France, the international aerobatic team from the French air force. Finally, it shouldn’t be forgotten that “Pelican” is unfortunately often associated with forest fires, being the nickname of the Bombardier Canadair and other amphibious firefighting aircraft.
Walking around the fountain, you come across four marble plaques, one at each corner of the monument, giving its history sine it was erected in the 18th century. Designed in 1769 by Jean-Baptiste Louche, master-mason at Pélissanne and Bernus, master-sculptor at Salon-de-Provence, the fountain was “completed during the reigns of Louis XV, MDCCLXX (1770) and Napoleon I MDCCCIX (1809)”. Following “improvement”, it was completely restored under the Third Republic (1870-1940).
The most surprising this is that the fountain, whose water is unfit for drinking, is transformed once a year into a fountain of rosé wine, the logical and sustaining outcome of the pelican symbol and a natural prolongation of the wine festival. So you should visit Pélissanne on the third Sunday of October during the great craft fair, to drink the fresh róse miraculously flowing (but for one day only) from the aptly named “cannons” of the Pelican Fountain.