The Musée des égouts de Paris (English: Paris Sewage Museum) is a one-of-a-kind destination for learning about the history and operation of Paris’s sewer system. The first section, located in the “dry gallery,” is devoted to learning about the Parisian sewage system, including its background, the many types of people who work in the field, environmental concerns, and the numerous water cycles.
Access to the network’s water reservoirs and galleries, each of which corresponds to a functioning industrial site, is provided via a second section in a wet gallery located at the network’s operational core. Visitors may learn about the development of the city’s sewage system, from its earliest days up to the current day, by exploring its narrow and shadowy corridors. Keep reading to learn more about this unique and interesting museum.
History of Musée des égouts in Paris, France
Sewers in Paris are among the oldest and most distinctive in the world, and they have been there since the early 1300s when the city was still known as Lutetia. Rue Montmartre was the site of the original Paris sewage system (a road situated in the 1e and 2e arrondissements).
It wasn’t until the medieval ages that people stopped drawing water straight from the Seine for consumption. The Seine’s natural ecology thus acted as a biological facility for the wastewater that was then released back into the river.
With the city’s population started rising during the Middle Ages, unfortunately, the delicate ecology that supplied Paris’s water supply eventually collapsed. Thus, a different answer was required, and the sewers of Paris provided it.
Beginning in the early 13th century, when Philippe Auguste, King of France from 1180 to 1223, ordered the city’s streets to be paved and sewers to be constructed, Paris’ sewer system began to collect and dispose of its wastewater. In 1850, construction began on what would become a network of more than 2,100 km (1,312 miles) of sewage tunnels, which are still in use today.
It is assumed that the every now and then rat also makes its way through the sandstone tunnels that carry everything from drain water from the streets to sanitary sewers (now in separate pipes) to mains for drinking water and the water used for street cleaning to telecommunications cables and pneumatic tubes between post offices.
Travelers could ride carts hung from the tunnel walls, carriages pulled by a miniature train, and even boats up to the 1970s in the Paris sewers. The carts and boats of the past have been replaced by a far more fascinating museum: The Musée des égouts de Paris, or Paris Sewers Museum.
Highlights of the History of Paris Sewers Museum
You may buy tickets from a little kiosk. There are 42 stairs leading down into the depths of the sewers. Although the dimmed lighting is immediately noticeable, the fragrance is the first thing that hits you as you make your way down the dark corridor. It’s hilarious because you may expect a museum dedicated to sewage to have a bad smell. In fact, it is. That stinks to hell.
There are mannequins of this scale around the museum. They contributed significantly to the eerie atmosphere and gave the impression of being somewhere between a museum and a sewer.
A sewage system is connected to every street in Paris. Therefore, each sewer below the earth is labeled with a street sign, much like the ones above ground. Imagining an equally lengthy sewer, complete with street signage, beneath every street you pass along is both eerie and fascinating.
Until the late 1970s, visitors could take a wooden boat through a bigger section of the sewage system, but today tourists may only enter the sewers through the museum. What an amazing excursion this must have been!
Everything from how the sewers are cleaned to how the weather impacts sewer operation around the city is covered on the museum’s several bilingual information boards. The Musée des Égouts provides an educational look into the Paris sewage system and is accessible to those who can read either French or English.
- Where is the Paris Sewers Museum – Musée des égouts de Paris?
Esplanade Habib Bourguiba, Pont de l’Alma, 75007 Paris, France.
- What are the opening hours of the Paris Sewers Museum – Musée des égouts de Paris?
Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Closed on Mondays.
- How long does it take to explore the Paris Sewers Museum?
1 or 2 hours is a reasonable time to spend in this museum, but you can stay longer if you want a complete visit.
Final words about Musée des égouts de Paris
Taking a trip into the Parisian sewers is like taking a deep dive into the city’s guts, revealing hitherto unseen corners. The history of the capital’s sewer system is intertwined with the city’s development as a whole, and a visit to the sewers museum is a great chance to learn more about both.
People in the above-ground world stroll over the sewage plates without giving any thought to the world below. Paris Sewers Museum gives you the opportunity to get a good look at what is going on under the luxurious and beautiful streets of Paris.