One of the good things about writing a blog is that it prompts me to go out and explore. This past Tuesday was November 11th and a national holiday in France, so there was no school. I took the advantage to explore Musée des égouts, namely the sewage system of Paris. Fun side note, Victor Hugo was good friends with the sewage designer back then, so he knew a lot but the Parisian sewage system and Jean Valjean from Les Miserables used the sewage as a hiding place.
The museum is near the RER stop Pont de l'alma. Ticket was about 3.60 euros for students. The smell... was a bit atrocious even at the entrance. I have some really dull senses so the smell wasn't that bad for me. My friend on the other hand was about to faint. According to her, "I was lucky enough not to die from the Beijing poisonous smog and now I land myself in the sewers of Paris." So think before you go.
It was quite an interesting experience and a bit confusing/gross at times. The Parisian sewage system is the only one of its kind in the world, made up of 2100 km of sewers that can be inspected and really well constructed (since Paris is so big), so it's really hard to imagine how it all began on the Cité Island where Notre Dame sits. Yes, the original Paris was that big. An Island. People used to take water from the Seine and dump their wastes back into the Seine, a bit un-sanitary if you ask me. But since the population was small enough back then, it was still under the Seine's capacity to purify the water. As the city grew, water became an urgent concern. Fountains and aqueducts were built to introduce fresh water into the city but the waste water still flowed into the Seine, example of how not to build a sustainable living city. But then again, drastic circumstances calls for drastic actions, which was the main motivation for refining the Parisian sewage system to how it is today. As we were walking inside the Museum, we could actually see the sewage water and the grimy stuff that was floating on the surface. Definitely quite the experience, but not sure if I would recommend that to anyone.
After that, we walked over to the Eiffel Tower because it's right around the corner. It's probably one of the most touristic things one can do in Paris and I've put it off for so long. Walking up the Eiffel Tower is still on my bucket list, not sure if I will be able to cross that off during this time I'm at Paris, but then again, more the reason for returning to Paris, right? We took the elevator to the second viewing deck, and switched elevators to go to the top. You have to have a ticket to the summit, otherwise you will be turned away at the door after being in line for two hours. The people in front of us found this out the hard way.
I love cities by nights. I think it offers a very different view. I haven't been to the top at night so it was definitely an awesome/freezing experience to see Paris at night. No pictures can do it justice, truly. They offer champaign in a brightly lit cup at the top of the tower. Applications are now open for those who would like to buy me a drink at the top of the Eiffel Tower, limited time offer, snatch it up before it's gone.
So from one of the lowest point of Paris to the highest point, as above, so below.