A Visit to the Sewage Museum (I Lived to tell the Tale)

by Anevay Darlington / Sep 18, 2013 /

La Ville Lumière (the City of Lights) is the perfect nickname for Paris, as 24 hours a day, the city is bathed in the light from street lamps and twinkling candles in restaurant windows. Unlike most tourists who visit the Eiffel Tower, my Mom wanted to see the dark, gritty, and stinky side of Paris. I was “thrilled” when my mom suggested we visit la Musee des Egoutsthe Sewage Museum!

la Musee des Egouts… the Sewage Museum

Located next to the Seine River close to the Eiffel Tower, my mom paid eight euros for the two of us to enter the museum. We walked down a staircase, which led us out of the sunlight into the most delightfully dank place I’ve ever been. Gollum from The Lord of the Rings would’ve felt very much at home.

At the end of the staircase we entered a tunnel, which held displays about the history of the sewage system... in French! So much for having an educational experience, Mom! Fortunately, the displays weren’t really why I agreed to go to the museum. I wanted to see poop, and a lot of it!

Yes, folks, in the sewage museum, poop really was the main attraction. At first, I couldn’t see it, but I smelled it faintly. I shook the smell off and tried not to let it bother me. I walked along pressing buttons on the displays, which had automated messages about the sewage system (it was hard not to press them even though the responses were in French). Unfortunately, the odor was getting stronger. We continued to walk and came to another tunnel, where, ooh la la, I finally saw what I was looking for: a river of sewage ran beneath the grate I was standing on. At this point the smell made me gag. I pulled my sweater up over my nose, but alas, it did no good.

la Musee des Egouts… the Sewage Museum

Mom’s eyes were tearing up a little. I’m still not clear whether she was crying over a display with drawings of the scene in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables where Jean Valjean carried his hurt daughter’s lover through the sewage system to safety, or whether she simply was overcome by the smell. I guess I’ll never know. At that moment, a group of Somalian men walked past and laughed. Mom looked a little offended, but I smiled, their happiness amid the sewage was contagious!

la Musee des Egouts… the Sewage Museum

Finally, just as my senses were a little too overwhelmed, mom and I left the sewage tunnel and entered the gift shop, where we picked up some postcards with old, historic pictures of the sewage system. We exited, bounding up the stairs, barely able to contain our excitement over the thought of fresh air and sunlight. 

Despite the smell, I’m glad my Mom took me to the sewage museum. See, there are not many people who can say, “I saw a river of poop.” It was an interesting experience. It was a poop-venture, and a memorable one at that! My Mom, being her usual romantic and poetic self, took me to the Tour d'Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower) afterwards (good thing I didn’t smell). As my mom said, “we went to the lowest part of Paris, now I’m going to take you to the highest!”

Up at the top of the Eiffel Tower, looking down at the City of Lights, time and time again my memory brought back the smell of the underground river. Ahh, Paris.
 

Eiffel Tower

 

 

 

 

Anevay Darlington is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Anevay Darlington