Let’s go look at infrastructure

It’s Christmas vacation, so the usual attractions are clogged full of tourists—when I walked past Notre Dame yesterday the line stretched to the far end of the square—so what better time to check out the less crowded attractions.

Today we visit the museum of the Paris sewer system.


That’s the inside of Le musée des égouts de Paris, located inside the current working sewers of the city. The smell is less bad than you’d expect.


One of the smaller collector branches. The small grey dot far down the tunnel is a rat.


The sewer itself with some machinery for dredging the sand and other debris.


Oooh. Cross sectional diagrams of all the different sections.


A giant wooden ball for cleaning round sections of the sewers. (It’s a bit smaller than the sewer. The water forced to go around it flushes the debris out ahead of it as the ball is forced downstream by the flow.)

Unfortunately, the most interesting parts of the museum are explanatory panels of the Parisian water system dating back to the Romans. (Well I liked it. Your mileage may vary.) Doesn’t make for great photos though.

Back above ground, walking past the Eiffel Tower, I noticed something I hadn’t before.


All the way around, just below the first deck of the tower is a list of names. Cauchy, Fresnel, Coulomb, Poinsot, Foucault, Poisson. (Yeah, it’s hard to see on the photo.) And that’s just part of one side. It’s just the kind of list to make the Math/Physics/Engineering fraternity feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Just to bring this post full circle, Belgrand, the engineer in charge of the sewers under Haussmann is up there too, second from the far left.