The underground scene in Paris.
Want to know what the *best* thing to do on a hot Saturday afternoon in Paris?
Take a trip down the sewers, that’s what.
And that’s exactly what I found myself doing the other weekend…
Now I have to warn that our choice of weather meant that the smell, normally fairly manageable (I’m told), was pungent enough to make the strongest of stomachs heave. Just an FYI if you were thinking of checking it out on a warm summer’s afternoon.
It was, nose-pinching aside, a really interesting trip. The tour I especially recommend.
Interesting facts I learnt:
The first sewer was built in 1370 (under the road where I work). Mmmmm old sewers.
There are 2400 kilometres of sewers under Paris
Every sewer has the name of the road just above, and more often than not, the building number too.
Visits to the sewers started in 1894
There are twice the number of rats than Parisians living in the sewers. In the case of a sewer overflow, the simultaneous ascent of nearly six million rats to the surface would be more of a concern than water hygiene.
If you accidentally lose your wedding ring down the sink while doing the washing-up, don’t worry, the sewage workers are often able to get precious objects back for you. Call 01.44.75.22.75 and a team will be sent out.
The tour lasts around an hour, is led on foot, and takes you through disused sewers, and over some that are very much still in use via grated bridges which give a good view of exactly what’s floating beneath... I found this weirdly fascinating and had to be pulled away.
|Bad day to wear new shoes
Address: Pont d’Alma, Rive Gauche, 75007, Paris
RER: Pont d’Alma
Metro: Alma Marceau Line 9
|(thank-you mairie de Paris)
Sat-Wed 11-16 (from Oct to April)
otherwise Sat-Wed 11-17
Closed Thurs and Fri.
4.30 euros tarif
So don’t judge until you’ve been, I enjoyed this despite the vomit reflex kicking in when we went a little deeper in. You learn a lot about how Paris works as a city, and you’ll never look at a manhole cover in the same way again.