Musée des Egouts de Paris

The Sewers of Paris


Useful Information

Location: Paris, in front of 93 quai d'Orsay, Pont de l'Alma (Place de la Resistance).
Metro station Alma-Marceau, cross Pont de l'Alma bridge, turn left into Quai d'Orsay, large blue sign.
Open: OCT to MAR Mon-Wed, Sat, Sun 11-16.
APR to SEP Mon-Wed, Sat, Sun 11-17.
Closed three last weeks in January for annual sewer cleaning.
[2007]
Fee: Adults EUR 4.10, Children (5-16) EUR 3.50, Children (0-4) free, Military EUR 3.50, Students EUR 3.50.
Groups (+): Adults EUR 3.50, School Pupils EUR 2.30.
[2007]
Classification: ExplainSewage System
Light: electric
Dimension: L=2,100,000m.
Guided tours: L=500m.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Donald Reid (1993): Paris Sewers and Sewermen: Realities and Representations, Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (March 1, 1993), ISBN-10: 0674654633, ISBN-13: 978-0674654631
Address: Musée des Égouts de Paris, Pont de l'Alma, rive gauche, Face au 93 quai d'Orsay, 75007 Paris, Tel: 47-051029, Tel: +33-153-682781, Fax: 47-053478.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1200 first paved streets with drainage channel in the middle.
1348-1349 a plague wipes out many citizens, caused by unsanitary conditions.
1370 Hugues Aubriot builds a 300m stone-walled sewer under rue Montmartre.
1600s additional sewer construction in certain areas by Louis XIV.
early 1800s Napoleon ordered the construction of a network of sewer tunnels totaling 30km.
1832 major outbreak of cholera.
1850 engineer Eugène Belgrand hired to design a complete system for water supply and waste removal.
1867 first public tours offered.
1878 sewer system reaches a length of 600km.
1892 visitors ride through the sewers in a locomotive-drawn wagon.
1894 law enacted which requires all waste to be sent to the sewers.
1920 locomotive-drawn wagon replaced with a boat.
1975 boat tours abandoned.

Description

This museum is not simply about the sewers, it is located in the sewers. 500m of the sewers has been turned into a museum, the . Exhibits show the machinery and techniques used to dredge the sand and solid waste from the channels. The modern computerized monitoring system is also explained.

The sewer tunnels of Paris are very large, about the size of a subway tunnel, at least the central collectors. In most cases they are wide enough and deep enough for a boat, with broad, paved walkways on both sides, high enough for most people to walk upright. Along the ceiling run various pipes, like fresh water, telecommunications cables, and pneumatic tubes.

The enormous size and complexity of the sewer system makes it true labyrinth. To help the city workers, each corner has street signs that mirror the ones on the surface. Wide sewer tunnels correspond with wide boulevards on the surface, smaller sewers with smaller streets. This system is a result of the work of the engineer Eugène Belgrand, who was hired in 1850 as a result of a major outbreak of cholera some years before. He was orderd to design a complete system for water supply and waste removal. It took an enormous work an many years, until finally in 1894 a law was enacted that required all waste to be sent to the sewers. The french call this the transition from tout à la rue (all in the street) to tout à l'égout (all in the sewer).

The sewers of Paris have provided material for many writers during the centuries. One of the most famous is probably Victor Hugo, who spent about 50 pages of Les Misérables describing the sewers. He did not vist them himself, the description was based on information he received from his friend Emmanuel Bruneseau, the sewer inspector Napoleon commissioned to explore the tunnels and create an exhaustive map of the sewers as they existed in the early 1800s. The sewers are also mentioned in Phantom of the Opera and in Umberto Eco's novel Foucault''s Pendulum.