Short description

The history of the sewers of Paris and that of the city are intimately linked. At the end of the 18th century, the sewer was an open-air cesspool, and the capital was invaded by diseases. In the course of the 19th century and technical advances, the sewers gradually became a network snaking skilfully under the city in a unitary and gravity network. Paris began to breathe and to develop.

Since 1975, a museum tells the story of the sewers of Paris and its various tools and machines. It is installed in the Alma factory, at the start of the sewer siphon under the Seine, in the heart of a site in operation.  It is open again since October 23, 2021 after a complete renovation.

Localisation
Open hours

Opening hours : Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm (last access 4pm) - Closed on Monday

Duration of the visit

  • Duration of the tour : from 45 min to 1h15
  • Route: 500 meters, linear

Visit conditions

  • Average temperature : 13°c
  • Low luminosity

How to dress ?

  • Prefer flat shoes
  • Bring something to cover yourself with

Offer adapted to people with disabilities

Rates and conditions

  • Self-guided tour: Full price: 9€ (ticket for all visitors), reduced price (seniors and large families): 7€. Ticket office: https://billetterie-egouts.paris.fr/
  • Guided tour: Tours depart every 15 minutes. They last 20 to 30 minutes. No reservation required.
  • Free for young people and children
  • Free for all under 18 years old and for European under 26 years old.

Accepted methods of payment

  • CB/Visa
  • Eurocard/Mastercard
Access

Musée des égouts de Paris
Esplanade Habib Bourguiba 75007 Paris
Pont de l'Alma - Face au 93 quai d'Orsay
75007 Paris
Metro: Alma-Marceau station, line 9; La Tour-Maubourg station, line 8

  • RER : Pont de l'Alma station, line C
  • Bus : n° 92, 42, 63, 80, Stop Bosquet-Rapp
  • Velib: Station 7022 (3 avenue Bosquet), Station 8045 (opposite 3 avenue Montaigne), Station 8046 (2 rue Marceau)
Address

Musée des égouts de Paris
Esplanade Habib Bourguiba 75007 Paris
Pont de l'Alma - Face au 93 quai d'Orsay
75007 Paris
Tel. +33 (0) 1 53 68 27 81
Téléphone : 01 53 68 27 84

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 51′ 46″ N 2° 18′ 08″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.86275 2.30265
Full description

The sewers of Paris also have their museum, little known but particularly instructive. It is one of the museums of the city of Paris. It is located under the Esplanade Habib-Bourguiba, in front of 93 quai d'Orsay at the level of the Alma bridge, in the 7th district of Paris.

The Musée des Egouts de Paris is located 500 m from the Eiffel Tower, on the same bank, and 100 m from the Place Diana (you have to cross the Pont de l'Alma) where the Flame of Liberty is located and which is the place of Princess Diana's fatal accident. Crossing the Pont de l'Alma and leaning over the embankment, you will see the statue of the Zouave whose fame is linked to the flooding of Paris by the Seine since 1910.

History of the beginning of the sewers of Paris

The history of the sewers of Paris and that of the city are intimately linked. At the end of the 18th century, the sewer was an open-air cesspool, and the capital was invaded by diseases. In the course of the 19th century and technical advances, the sewers gradually became a network snaking skilfully under the city in a unitary and gravity network. Paris began to breathe and to develop.

Since the 18th century, the mortality rate in Paris was the highest in France and at the beginning of the 19th century, the capital still suffered from a lack of hygiene. In Paris, the sewer sometimes overflows in the streets cluttered with various detritus. It is easy to understand that cholera epidemics followed one another in the capital, in 1832, 1849 and 1884. People drank water that was often unhealthy because the water tables and wells were contaminated by cesspools and the wastewater that was discharged into the street or into the Seine. However, the role of water in the transmission of diseases was not yet clearly pointed out at the time.

But among all those who shaped the sewers of Paris, Eugène Belgrand holds a special place. This polytechnician and engineer of the Ponts et Chaussés, passionate about hydrology, was called by the prefect Haussmann to take charge of the water service of Paris in 1854. The engineer set up spring water catchments that supplied Paris from 1865 onwards. This new network, as well as the non-drinking water used for watering parks, gardens and streets, passed through the sewers. His work did not stop there: this pure water had to be distributed and then recovered once it was used.

As early as 1833, even before the beginning of Haussmann's great works, the split pavements of traditional streets began to give way to the first curved pavements. These were equipped with two lateral streams, which collected the water used to clean the streets, which was poured twice a day by more than a thousand hydrants. At the same time, in the same year, the first rational network of sewers appeared under the city: it allowed to collect this cleaning water as well as rainwater.

From 1868 until the beginning of the 20th century, agricultural irrigation with sewage water was practiced. It allows the purification of wastewater while fertilizing the soil. At the same time, more and more buildings were equipped with sewage systems: the volume of wastewater to be conveyed to the sewage fields increased drastically while the surface area of these available sewage fields decreased rapidly in the face of increasing urbanization. In addition to this, there is a health risk pointed out by the hygienists as well as the competition of chemical fertilizers. As a result, spreading was gradually abandoned during the 20th century.

The development of sewers in Paris since the 19th century

In 1833, the first rational sewer system was created to collect rainwater and street cleaning water, which was discharged from the water fountains. The sewers gradually allowed water to circulate under the city, which at the same time grew and breathed: its waste was drained by the underground network, which got rid of its sewage and sent it to the spreading fields to fertilize the crops around the capital.

1865: pure water captured at the source circulates in the network and is distributed in Paris, as well as non-drinking water to water the parks and clean the streets.

In 1867, during the Universal Exhibition, the general public could visit the sewers of Paris in galleries whose height had been increased to facilitate the work of men

In 1894, the sewers of Paris, a unified network, carried away solid matter along with wastewater and runoff water. Irrigation from wastewater was used more and more, until 1909 when it began to decline.

At the beginning of the 20th century, while the wastewater was transiting with the rainwater in the main culvert, the sewers were also home to drinking water, non-drinking water, compressed air... It even circulated a part of the mail with the sending of tires! Today, the network is home to 141,259 km of fiber optics, to provide Parisians with very high-speed Internet.

The Parisian sewer network has not stopped growing: from 23 km in 1806, it was 1000 km at the end of the 19th century to reach 2600 km today.

Before the museum, the visit organized in the sewers themselves

Long before the creation of the Museum, visits to the sewers of Paris were organized. As early as 1867, the year of one of the Universal Exhibitions, these visits were a huge success. And for good reason: an underground place, hidden to all those who live on the surface of the city, the sewers of Paris tirelessly feed the imagination of the inhabitants of the capital and artists.

In 1867, the "walk" in the sewers of Paris was guided by the sewer workers. It takes place in a boat or in a wagon-van. It is a very popular outing, which attracts a varied public: crowned heads, people of the world in search of thrills, without forgetting the engineers on a study mission. All can discover here the modernity of the capital of France and its underground functioning.

Two Wednesdays a month, between Easter and October, one of the most popular tours of Paris takes place, that of the sewers. It lasts nearly an hour from Châtelet to Madeleine via the Concorde via the Sébastopol and Rivoli collectors and the Asnières collector. During the first part of the journey, the women took a seat on a boat, the men followed on foot, and then everyone settled into a gondola car with comfortable seats, pushed by four sewage workers in white suits.

In 1906 the traction was electric. The trip was made in both directions and the transfer was made at the Châtelet. Each convoy brought about a hundred visitors, admiring the spacious, illuminated and almost odorless galleries.

In 1913, the educational aspect of the visit was developed, thanks to numerous panels presenting the desanding basin or the diversion of the collector, the water in the valve, the pneumatic clocks, etc.

After the Second World War, the entrance to the sewer tour is located at the Place de la Concorde: the route leads to the Madeleine after a quick trip in the collector of the Rue Royale. Visits are now organized on Thursdays, twice a month in May and June, every week between July 1 and October 15 and the last Saturday of each month. Visitors are admitted within the limits of the available places, without possible reservation, and an entrance fee is charged at the descent.

In 1975 the Sewer Museum was born

Since 1975, a museum tells the story of the sewers of Paris and its various tools and machines. It is installed in the Alma factory, at the start of the sewer siphon under the Seine, in the heart of a site in operation. Visitors can walk through 500 meters of it, under the guidance of the sewer workers. First renovated in 1989, the museum welcomes about 100,000 visitors per year.

In the summer of 2018, the Public Visit of the Sewers closed its doors for a complete renovation of its route. It is open again since October 23, 2021 completely renovated.

The new museum of the sewers of Paris

The museum is dedicated to the sewers of Paris, from Hugues Aubriot, provost of Paris at the origin in 1370 of the first vaulted sewer in Paris rue Montmartre, to the present day, through Eugene Belgrand, 19th century engineer at the origin of the current sewer system. The museum also deals with the work of the sewage workers of the city of Paris and the sanitation of water.

Prepare yourself for a visit out of the ordinary: you will discover the sewers in action, and the industrial achievements linked to their functioning.

See the map of the museum in the photo gallery on the right. Free guided tours are also available (see below)

  1. An approach sequence that situates the Museum through the first urban clues, inseparable from the river and the capital. A transparent building on the surface marks the entrance to this underground museum.
  2. Then, after the immersion in the galleries by the elevator, a location allows the visitors, from the access under ground, to orient themselves in time and territory and to discover the city under the city.
  3. Before discovering the industrial site, the public crosses a first section where they are given the keys to understanding the Parisian sewer system.
  4. The visitor then follows in the footsteps of the sewer worker. In the active galleries, the tour is organized in two major loops: the first where the visitor discovers the essential work of cleaning and maintenance in the sewers, the second where he learns about the issues of water regulation and treatment for the environment and ecology.
  5. Back in the museum galleries, the visitor finds a presentation of the major stages in the history of sanitation in Paris, which highlights the technical and societal issues and helps to understand the evolution, up to the environmental issues of our modern era, which have become essential.
  6. Opposite the exhibition, the trades and men who make the sewers work on a daily basis appear. The scenography highlights the evolution of these jobs that ensure the comfort and safety of the inhabitants and contribute to protect the natural environment.
  7. Finally, the Aubriot gallery becomes a study gallery, housing some of the models in the collection. These models are an illustration of the technical genius and a precious testimony of the culture of the sewage workers.

Free guided tours are also available

  • Departure every hour depending on the number of visitors and the availability of the agents
  • Meeting point at the beginning of the tour.
  • No reservation required.
  • Duration of the guided tour: about 45 minutes.

Anecdote: in 1984, a crocodile escaped from a reserve and took refuge in the Parisian sewers, but the authorities did not take long to capture it.

Static Code
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Closed
Open hours today: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Monday

    Closed

  • Tuesday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm

  • Wednesday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm

  • Thursday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm

  • Friday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm

  • Saturday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm

  • Sunday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm

  • July 24, 2024 7:51 am local time

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