I really hope that you, the readers, truly appreciate the lengths I go to in order to give you quality and interesting reading material on this blog. Paris is a well travelled city, and it’s not always easy to find new and interesting attractions that may not be well known to the general public. Then one day I came across this gem of a museum, Les Egouts de Paris (the Sewers of Paris).
I have to say that when I first saw the sign, I thought maybe my grade school french was failing me. I was quite certain the word egouts was sewer, but who would want to showcase this to tourists? Parisians apparently. My second thought was where was this “Sewer Museum”, little did I realize it’s an actual tour of the sewers… C had a busy week at school which meant lots of AK time for me. She wanted to give me a break one afternoon, and so I grabbed a camera and headed off for a tour of the underbelly of Paris.
First of all, let me say that this museum is a steal! At only $4.30 it’s about the cheapest thing in Paris besides a coffee (although it doesn’t smell nearly as good). As you descend the stone steps into the depths below, you are greeted by a few museum employees. They tell you the usual museum things, don’t make too much noise, stick to the map, and then the not so usual “please don’t touch anything at all, and we highly recommend you wash your hands before you leave…” What was I getting into?
The next part of the tour is fairly tame with a few billboards describing the basic sewer system and the incredible floods they had in 1910. Once you exit this hallway, you step into the actual Paris sewer system. Apparently in the ’70s, you could actually take boat trips in the sewer, not sure why these went out of style?
It should be no surprise to our readers (although I was a bit shocked) that now that I am in the main sewer system, it starts to smell pretty bad, sort of like, well, sewage. As I go around the corner I see what is actually a river of sewage flowing down the centre of the tunnel. There are some rudimentary guard rails and metal grates so that at times you are walking a few metres above the flowing effluent below. I should probably mention that these tunnels aren’t very well lit, are pretty damp, and are generally pretty dank.
I’m not a big fan of horror movies, but at this point of the tour (did I mention I was all by myself and no one else was in the museum at the time?) I was half expecting Nessie to jump out of the river of effluent and drag me down beneath the ooze. While stopped to read a billboard, one of the cleaning staff came into the tunnel and dropped a broom, needless to say I jumped about 6 feet in the air. To say the sewers were giving me the heebie jeebies was a bit of an understatement. At about that time, a couple of tourists came along so I stayed close by, pretending to be interested in whatever they stopped to look at, no doubt Nessie wouldn’t hunt a group of us…
At the end of the tour you are greeted by the gift shop (yes you read that right!). Unfortunately they were out of post cards, however they did have a large selection of plush toy rats… After a VERY thorough hand washing, I headed back out of the depths and into the sunshine. While I can’t say I’d ever do it again, it was pretty interesting to see how it all worked, and I think it made for an entertaining blog post…