Friday, May 12, 2006

The blue door to Paris underground...

This manhole cover may not be as glamorous as yesterday's fashion museum photo but if you open it, it will take you to something very unique in the world: the Paris sewers network! This network is more than 1 300 miles long and it's really like an underground mirror city (there is a tunnel under almost each street and they have their own street signs). Paris is so proud of its sewers network that there is even a museum you can visit (I actually have done it once and I loved it). Click here to find out much more about it on this excellent blog.


  1. Ah, les égouts! Tout un programme!

    The first time I heard about visiting the sewers of Paris, I can't say that I was exactly enthousiastic about it, but it's actually a petty cool thing to do! You guys should check it out!

  2. Hey Eric,
    thanks a lot for the colourful picture and the great story.
    There's something new I wanna do as soon as I'm in Paris now... I've never been to the sewer museum before. =)

  3. the manhole IS glamorous. compared to other manholes, it's the belle of the ball. i've never seen one so bright and colorful.

    city undergrounds are so fascinating.

  4. This is something that's fascinated me ever since I read about it as a child. I would LOVE to do the tour but I know I never could because I am claustrophobic.

    What a wonderful color the manhole cover is.

  5. Passante: If memory serves, the tunnels you go through in there are quite spacious, so there isn't a feeling of being enclosed at all.

    Once in a while, however, you might see a couple of furry friends run around nearby ... and then again, you can see their brothers in the subway, too, if you pay close attention.

  6. Very interesting!! I know Paris to be a very beautiful city but I've never heard about your sewers. Might take a look if I happen to visit there!! ( hoping !!)
    by the way, that is one colorful manhole cover. Nothing as bright as that here!

  7. Only Paris would think to paint manhole covers a lovely blue! Maybe the sewer museum could host a "grunge" fashion show... sewers/sewers (English pun - sorry - couldn't help it)-it's a funny tie-in with yesterday's fashion museum shot.

  8. hi eric! sorry haven't visted in awhile!! i love this photo!! something so simple is so gorgeous!

  9. I've heard great things about the Parisian sewage network- the Fashion Museum is more my scene though!

    Great picture- are all the manhole covers bright blue?

  10. I toured the égouts with my daughter a few years back. It was cool. The museum also features objects found in the sewers over the years. Many left me scratching my head thinking "How did that end up down here?"

  11. To enjoy Paris, you have to see the ground level, to look up to the roofs...and not to forget undergrounds!
    For me, the most incredible underground curiosity remains the "catacombes" in Paris.
    The metro also organize rare visits at nights, to discover what you can't see in the day.
    I never visited the sewers, but i've heard it is worth.

  12. Near the entrance to the sewer museum I'll always remember the beautiful women, who were assisting we tourists by handing out printed information, when they broke out into laughter as they noticed me taking a few worried, tentative sniffs to test the fragrance. The odor was not bad. Not at all what I expected. Something less than Troisième Crus, however.

    There was an impressive video that showed how a handy phone number could lead to the recovery of objects dropped down into a sewer. The phone call leads to a truck dispatch of sewermen, some of whom have been in the business for generations, and most of whom take pride in their unique occupation. Once the aboveground location is determined a sewerman enters the sewer and traces an appropriate underground route right to the dropped keys or wallet. As you say, the underground mirrors the aboveground.

    I did have a dumb question. What are the rolled-up carpet things at the street drains into the sewer? To prevent standing water and therefore discourage mosquitoes? To somehow direct the flow of water? To give homeless people, otherwise unable to afford a squeegee, a means to clean dirty windshields of pausing cars?

  13. For some reason this picture reminds me of blue jeans with zippers and all.

  14. Très jolie photo ! très beau bleu aussi, on a envie d'y plonger ! mais la perspective d'atterrir dans un égout....

  15. bonjour, je vois que tu aimes les photos de Paris, et les tiennes sont remarquables, je te propose de découvrir les miennes maintenant, je suis sûr qu'elles vont te plaire ^_^ bonne journée

  16. Great image Eric and that colour blue is fantastic.

    Yet again you are reminding me of all the things I said I would do when I was a resident of Paris. 12 years I think I lived in Paris and always said I would do the sewer tour, but never did!!

  17. So, THAT is a manhole ?!!! Funny, I never figured it that way…

  18. interesting, Eric, there's a blogger in Taiwan who did a feature on manhole cover recently. Though it is in Chinese, but there are lots of pictures of manhole covers too...see this link:

  19. Do you have alligators in your sewers?

  20. > Moonsoleil. Did you make a note of the address? It's by the Pont de l'Alma on the left bank.

    > Paradise. In fact, it's the first time I see a painted one like this. That is precisely why I took the photo.

    > Soosha. I still did not send you a post card - I did not have the time yet - but I will this WE.

    > Passante. It's not that bad. If you are really claustrophobic then yes it might me a problem but then that would also mean you cannot get on a plane so...

    > Tomate. Sush! You're going to scare them! Paris rats are nice, don't worry, their not like the Parisians, LOL!

    > Midnitebara. that's why I posted this photo. Not that many people who come to Paris have the idea of doing this.

    > Blondetown. LOL. BTW, the blue is exceptional. Somebody must have painted this one.

    > Pink Rocket. It's OK. But I missed you! Don't go away like that...

    > Eurobrat. Nope only THIS manhole is blue.

    > Buzzgirl. It's amazing isn't. Actually it all happened because of the diseases that would spread out everywhere because the poor sanitary condition of Paris.

    > Haxo. I did not know about the Metro at night. Sounds very interesting. I will investigate a little more. As far as the Catacombs are concerned I fully agree and posted something about them here already (shame I did not take this pic though...)

    > Percy. Thanks for sharing all this. To answer your question. First of all I need to let everybody know that in Paris it is very usual to see water running along sidewalks. This water is often used to clean the road, the sidewalks themselves, etc. (or also by pigeons, see here It goes directly into the sewers afterwards for there are little homes in the sidewalks that lead to the sewers (I hope I make myself clear!)

    And it is true that the cleaning people use old rolled rugs to precisely direct the flow of water when they need it to go a certain direction.

    I will try to photograph this once although I cannot really imagine making a nice photo out of that!

    > Nerissa. Yeah, why not!

    > kbythebay. No at the time of Jean Valjean (a character from les Miserables by Victor Hugo) the sewers were not the ones that they are today.

    > Lily. Rire !

    > Lionel. Merci. Je vais aller voir ça.

    > Wilf. I DO understand. And I doubt you can find a similar network in Réal!

    > Anonymous. You've learnt something thanks to PDP...

    > Lisi. Fascinating. Thank you.

    > Natalie. Nope! Only anacondas...

  21. >>I would LOVE to do the tour but I know I never could because I am claustrophobic. >>

    Never fear, Passante. I am claustrophobic but did not have any difficulty during the tour.


  22. Eric,
    The visit in the metro is from midnight to 05.00 in the morning. You see some stations that have closed (like "Champs de Mars, "Croix Rouge", "Saint Martin",...) or stations that have been built underground but had never open (like a metro station called..."Haxo"), you can also see old metros vehicles, etc.... During the visit (43 Euros), they offer you a drink, and even the petit déjeuner.
    Write to to ask for more information (they send a detailed plaquette for the program)and to be kept informed about the possible visits.(better to ask in french i guess...)
    Some information about ADEMAS :

  23. What a fascinating bit of history. The next time I'm in Paris I will have to check this out.

  24. This color blue is fantastic!! It reminds me of the blue I love so much on so many shutters in France. In Paris, even the sewers are interesting.

  25. Eric, joli coup ! Tu es tombé sur une bouche peinte ! et d'un bleu vraiement sympa pour des lèvres d'égouts :-)

    Sympa de revoir Paris de loin, après 20 ans sur place et un au revoir définitif il y aplus de deux ans maintenant...

  26. This is such a mesmerising photo. The grey, that blue, I'm really drawn to it...thank you again for these amazing perspectives.

  27. Lovely pictures !
    You're a very good photographer !
    I've been to Paris very often but you caught some views I've never seen before from this angle of sight!