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Paris Sewers Museum

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Continued from page 1

photo LEFT: A sandstone tunnel brings stormwater and sewage from a nearby street.

INSET BELOW: A street sign in the sewers.

What you'll see at the Musée des égouts

photoAfter descending the stairs from the aboveground ticket office, you'll enter a long gallery beneath the Quai d'Orsay that runs parallel to the Seine. Here, you can see pipes and a five-ton "flushing boat" in what once was the main sewer line between the Place de la Concorde and the Pont de l'Alma. You'll pass a large basin that traps solid material from wastewater (the sewers recover more than 15,000 cubic meters of grit per year).

At the end of the tunnel are a footbridge and a feeder sewer fom the rue Cognacq-Jay (see photo above); from there, you'll head right to the Belgrand gallery, the main exhibit area of the museum, which is built above the sand trap of the Bosquet main sewer that runs to the Ecole Militaire near the Eiffel Tower.

During your visit, you'll see sewer-maintenance equipment from past and present, mannequins of sewer workers in underground gear, huge wooden balls used to clean tunnels beneath the Seine, fascinating exhibits about the history and design of the Paris sewer network, and rushing drainwater from the streets above. You can also watch a video in the small theatre and browse through the gift shop. (Restrooms are near the gift shop and are connected to the enclosed sanitary sewer pipes, so you can flush without fear of splashing other visitors.)

  • Tip: Allow 60 minutes for your visit, or longer if you want to spend time in the gift shop.

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