In Paris, A 200-Year-Old Canal Was Drained, And The Public Was Ecstatic

Published on 04/19/2021
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On a cloudy day in Paris, a crowd has gathered to watch what is going on at the Canal Saint-Martin. Everyone couldn’t take their eyes off the scene unfolding in front of them. They were all looking forward to seeing the murky waters recede as the authorities drained the river. What had been lurking in the canal’s waters all along? After two centuries, they discovered things about the canal that they had not anticipated in the least. What exactly did they discover down there?

In Paris, A 200-Year-Old Canal Was Drained, And The Public Was Ecstatic

In Paris, A 200-Year-Old Canal Was Drained, And The Public Was Ecstatic

It Was Time To Drain It

The authorities examined them as the murky waters receded. It’s not every day that you unearth the mysteries of the ocean’s depths. Residents learned about a new chapter in the city’s history as the building’s floor became visible. Assume that neither of them expected to come across what they did.

It Was Time To Drain It

It Was Time To Drain It

An Important Source Of Water

The canal spans 4.5 kilometers. It was finished after Napoleon Bonaparte approved the project. This canal was constructed primarily to provide safe drinking water to Paris’s 550,000 inhabitants. He was well aware, however, that the population would almost certainly continue to rise soon.

An Important Source Of Water

An Important Source Of Water

A Lot More To It Than That

He also hoped that having clean water would help with the city’s health issues. At the time, there were numerous reports of cholera and dysentery. The Canal Saint-Martin winds its way through the city for nearly three miles. It also delivered food and building materials to Parisians all over the city at the time.

A Lot More To It Than That

A Lot More To It Than That

Its Fascinating History

In the decades that followed, two canals were built for the same purpose. Authorities were constructing the Canal Saint-Denis and the Canal de l’Ourcq. The latter had a width of 3.4 meters and a length of 108 kilometers. It connected the Canal Saint-Martin at Port-aux-Perches to the Bassin de la Villette. It’s best to keep in mind that they’re all hundreds of years old.

Its Fascinating History

Its Fascinating History

During The French Revolution

The most well-known of the three is the Canal Saint-Martin. It ran beneath the ground from the Bassin de l’Arsenal to the Place de la Bastille. Many people are aware of the latter as pivotal events in the French Revolution, which lasted from 1789 to 1799. This was the site of an unexpected prison attack. It has, as you can see, a long and fruitful history. People were curious to see what lay beneath the surface for this reason.

During The French Revolution

During The French Revolution

What The Canals Are Like Now

The canal has become a popular tourist attraction for both locals and visitors. Young Parisians frequently congregate along the Seine’s banks and in nearby cafes. Tourists, on the other hand, prefer to take pictures of famous buildings and bridges. So, why did the authorities drain the water in the first place?

What The Canals Are Like Now

What The Canals Are Like Now

All The Weird Things At The Bottom

In its two centuries of existence, the canal has certainly seen a lot of changes. Authorities attempt to empty it every ten to fifteen years. They were going to clear out everything that had accumulated at the bottom. This, however, was not a routine clean-up. What was it about this era that was so different?

All The Weird Things At The Bottom

All The Weird Things At The Bottom

The Draining Procedure

Paris conceals a plethora of major secrets. Some of them were obscured by the murky waters of this canal. Parisians were intrigued by what lay beneath their beloved Canal Saint-Martin. The draining operation was being watched from a distance. What would they discover if they went?

The Draining Procedure

The Draining Procedure

Waste From The First World War

In 2001, the canal was drained for the first time. At the time, they were able to remove over 40 tons of waste from the water. Among the fascinating finds were bullets, bombshells, and gold pennies from World War I. Not only that, but they found a car from the same era. That hasn’t happened in a long time. What else might they find in the water?

Waste From The First World War

Waste From The First World War

How Much It Cost Them

The enormous task of draining the canal began. To remove approximately 3 million cubic feet of water would take three months. It was necessary, even though the city had to spend more than $10 million on it. The audience was curious as to what had been hidden in the canal for so long…

How Much It Cost Them

How Much It Cost Them

People Gathered To Look

They drained the canal’s remaining water on January 7. After 15 years, the waterway’s secrets were finally revealed. The bridges drew people from all walks of life. They wanted to look into what the authorities had discovered. Curiosity was killing everyone.

People Gathered To Look

People Gathered To Look

A Surreal Moment

It had to have been a huge event. After all, it’s not every day that you get to see the Canal Saint-Martin dry. People couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw what was going on. It was strange to see the canal’s bottom. They were all curious about what lay beneath the canal’s surface.

A Surreal Moment

A Surreal Moment

The Living Things In The Water

The workers were tasked with draining the canal to a depth of 50 cm. They waded through the canal, searching for the objects and living “things” that had taken up residence there. Around five tons of carp, trout, and bream were caught by the working crew! After that, the fish were relocated to more favorable breeding grounds. Before relocating the fish, they carefully weighed and identified it. Even if the new location was less than ideal, it was better than the alternative.

The Living Things In The Water

The Living Things In The Water

People Threw Garbage Into The Water

Several commonplace items made their way into the water’s depths. There were bicycles, among other things. They were later identified as being part of the Vélib car-sharing system in the city. The program added approximately 14,500 bicycles to the city’s streets in 2007. Regrettably, they found themselves in unusual situations.

People Threw Garbage Into The Water

People Threw Garbage Into The Water

The Most Bizarre Findings

As the drainage process progressed, more items emerged. There were mopeds, bicycles, and wheelie bins at the canal’s bottom! There was also a toilet down there. It was critical to its recovery because it had undoubtedly contributed to the canal’s murkiness. It was thought to be amusing to have it there. This was not the only unexpected discovery down there. Larger objects were also discovered at the bottom.

The Most Bizarre Findings

The Most Bizarre Findings

How They Must Have Gotten There

A witness, Marc, told The Guardian, “It’s like some weird submarine treasure.” He added, “I can’t believe the quantity of Vélibs there. I guess they were stolen and thrown in afterward. It’s bizarre.” Moreover, bicycles were not the only unusual objects that made it to the bottom.

How They Must Have Gotten There

How They Must Have Gotten There

Paris Is Filthy

“That’s Paris for you,” an onlooker named Bernard said. He went on to say, “It’s filthy.” In recent years, it appears to have gotten worse. He was also present the first time the well was drained. “The last time, I don’t remember seeing so much rubbish in it,” he shared. “I despair. The youth are using it as a dustbin.”

Paris Is Filthy

Paris Is Filthy

Even Weirder Than The Bikes

If you thought bicycles were strange, wait until you hear that they also recovered a pair of motorcycles from down there. Who knows how those things got there? We’re hoping that someone will come forward and tell us what happened. Things only got weirder and weirder from there.

Even Weirder Than The Bikes

Even Weirder Than The Bikes

So Much Trash

They didn’t find only alive creatures and strange things down there, of course. It was expected that some items would be discovered. Examples include shopping bags, traffic cones, and glass bottles. Nobody seemed to be interested in these findings. Everyone was excited to talk about the unusual items!

So Much Trash

So Much Trash

A Random Office Chair

To begin with, none of them had any idea how an office chair ended up there. The discovery was met with skepticism by the witnesses. Is it possible that this was delivered to the 10th arrondissement by an office worker? The theory may appear absurd to you, but just thinking about it made us smile.

Random Office Chair

A Random Office Chair

There Was A Suitcase

It’s a lot of fun to speculate on how these things got there. As they continued to drain the water, another interesting item emerged from beneath the murkiness. They discovered a revolting suitcase at the canal’s bottom. Is it there because someone threw it there?

There Was A Suitcase

There Was A Suitcase

A Traffic Cone

This is yet another unusual item that has people scratching their heads. A crew member had no choice but to retrieve this traffic cone from the canal’s bottom. Who could have put it there? We’re banking on a vandal who felt compelled to destroy the evidence as soon as possible.

A Traffic Cone

A Traffic Cone

A True Shopping Destination

There is also a shopping trolley on the Canal Saint-Martin floor. People’s interest in the story was piqued as a result of this. Did a shopper accidentally push their car into the canal after loading their bags? In any case, we can conclude that Paris is a fantastic shopping destination.

A True Shopping Destination

A True Shopping Destination

Save The Fish

Workers kept draining the water from the Canal Saint-Martin until only 20 inches remained. First and foremost, they needed to get the fish to safety. The cleanup crew fished for carp, trout, and bream for three days in the water. They apprehended the creatures and relocated them to another section of the river.

Save The Fish

Save The Fish

Swimming There Might Be Possible

Despite how depressing it was to see all of the trash in the canal, there is still reason to be optimistic. The findings brought the city’s littering problem to light. Authorities used the opportunity to talk about the situation. “If everyone mucks in and avoids throwing anything into the water,” Celia Blauel told MailOnline, “we might be able to swim in the canal in a few years.”

Swimming There Is Possible

Swimming There Might Be Possible

It Was An Expensive Process

If the waterway had not been drained, no one would have realized how serious the problem was. The canal area is, in fact, considered prime real estate. It came at a high cost for the Parisians. Only real estate properties near the arrondissement command prices of up to $9,000. We’re sure they had no idea these things were so close to their homes.

It Was An Expensive Process

It Was An Expensive Process

Why The Area Is Expensive

The waterway has always appeared lush and aesthetically pleasing, contributing to the high price of the property. In fact, it has served as an inspiration to several artists. Street art can be found on the bank’s walls, and the institution has a large multimedia space dedicated to art.

Why The Area Is Expensive

Why The Area Is Expensive

It Took Two Decades

Over the course of two decades, all three canals were dug across the length of Paris. When they are combined, they total more than 80 miles. The Canal Saint-Martin is the most well-known of the three. It connects the Seine River and the Canal de l’Ourcq over a distance of 68 miles.

It Took Two Decades

It Took Two Decades

Both Tourists And Parisians

The Canal Saint-Martin has drawn both Parisians and tourists since its inception. It has always had a certain allure about it. They’ve all taken a look at the badges. They could also traverse all of the locks and road bridges along the way.

Both Tourists And Parisians

Both Tourists And Parisians

The Amazing Nightlife

If you’ve been to Paris, you’re probably aware that the Canal Saint-Martin area has a thriving nightlife scene. The once quiet neighborhood would now attract a large number of young people. Many people assumed that this would simply add to the amount of waste in the canal. In 2016, they discovered if this was the case.

The Amazing Nightlife

The Amazing Nightlife

Construction Of The Canal

Napoleon I, the French emperor, ordered the canal’s construction to begin in 1802. At the time, Paris had a population of around 550,000 people. That figure did not appear to be decreasing any time soon. The waterway, Napoleon believed, would bring fresh water to the city and improve the health of the citizens.

Construction Of The Canal

Construction Of The Canal

The Route

The canal extends from the Seine’s Bassin de l’Arsenal to just below the Bastille. The latter served as the site of a prison that was destroyed during the French Revolution. It then emerges near the Place de la République before ascending to the north to the Bassin de la Villette. It merges with the Canal de l’Ourcq at this point.

The Route

The Route

Strange Things In The Water

What was it that piqued your interest the most? Chairs, shopping carts, suitcases, trash cans, toilets, bicycles, and motorcycles were discovered at the bottom, just in case you forgot. In addition to the previously mentioned items, there was a vintage stereo on the floor. When you go there, you never know what you’ll find.

Strange Things In The Water

Strange Things In The Water

Way Too Many Bottles And Cans

While draining the water from the Canal Saint-Martin, they discovered a large number of cans and bottles. Have you any idea how many there were? We have our doubts that you answered the question correctly. After all, they discovered hundreds of thousands of these things down there.

Bottles And Cans

Way Too Many Bottles And Cans

How Long It Is

The Canal Saint-Martin is three miles long and runs through the heart of the capital. It passes through the 10th arrondissement, which is best known for being a fashionable district. The neighborhood has recently grown in popularity due to its nightlife and tourist attractions. It is a must-see during your next trip to Paris!

How Long It Is

How Long It Is

More Interesting Finds

More and more items were unearthed and discovered in the murky water as crowds gathered by the canal to better look at what was going on. Every 10-15 years, the canal is drained and cleaned, giving the public plenty of opportunity to toss, lose, and drop all manner of strange objects into the water. An old-school stereo is sunken on the muddy ground here. We’re left wondering how it got there in the first place.

More Interesting Finds

More Interesting Finds

Crowds Gathering

Locals are understandably interested in the draining and cleaning process – who wouldn’t be? As workers continued their work, onlookers gathered around the canal, watching the whole thing unfold gradually. Perhaps Parisians were hoping to locate a long-lost item in the midst of the chaos. Maybe they were just looking for a relaxing form of entertainment that involved spending time outside? We’re sure we’d like to see something similar.

Crowds Gathering

Crowds Gathering

Vintage Items

Even though this procedure is performed regularly, given the canal’s age, vintage items such as this camera are still discovered during the cleaning. It’s puzzling how these items ended up at the bottom of the canal in the first place, especially since they predate the canal’s last cleaning. People may drop things in the canal regularly, whether intentionally or unintentionally, for all we know. Items that have a longer history than expected are always discovered.

Vintage Items

Vintage Items

Sentimental Discoveries

More items appear and are discovered as the canal’s 90,000 cubic meters of water is drained. You’d expect to find items that are old and filthy, and you’d be correct. There were, however, some other, more unexpected discoveries. Take this stuffed animal, for example. In contrast to everything else we’ve seen so far, it appears to be brand new. The contrast between the almost spotless stuffed animal and the filthy motorcycle beneath it is almost chilling in this photo.

Sentimental Discoveries

Sentimental Discoveries

Anger Management

If you ask us, this photo paints a complete picture. To be honest, you could base an entire story on it. The muddy chair in the murky water… It’s completely covered in moss… When you think about it, it’s quite haunting. Again, our thoughts wander to the various possibilities that led to this chair being thrown into the canal in the first place. Could it have been a heated exchange? Perhaps a tragic accident? There are so many possibilities.

Anger Management

Anger Management

Lengthy Ordeal

Workers must spend hours ensuring that everything goes according to plan as the water is slowly drained into the River Seine. From relocating the fish that became entangled in the canal to completely renovating the canal’s four double locks. Of course, any worn-out small parts must be replaced as well. From start to finish, the entire procedure would take about three months.

Lengthy Ordeal

Lengthy Ordeal

Team Effort

Because this is such a large project, it stands to reason that there will be a large number of people involved to complete it. As can be seen in the photo, dozens, if not hundreds, of workers are involved in ensuring that everything is done correctly and efficiently. Not to mention, without putting anyone in danger. While machinery is used for most of the project, individuals must complete many tasks that their equipment cannot.

Team Effort

Team Effort

Heavy Lifting

It’s a risky process to embark on because so many things can go wrong at any given time. Before this one, the canal had been drained in 2001. It’s natural to think that such an event is exciting because it happens only once every decade. The workers must make numerous preparations to take on such a massive task. It is not easy for the municipality to acquire all of the necessary machinery and equipment.

Heavy Lifting

Heavy Lifting

Other Locations

Given what we’ve seen in the Parisian canal every decade or so, it stands to reason that other parts of the world clean out their water sources and drains regularly. When cleaning out drains and pipes in the UK, many strange things have been discovered. In fact, there are some items that you would never expect to find in such a location. Let’s look at some of the items discovered by drain cleaning companies.

Other Locations

Other Locations

Animals

No one is accusing people of intentionally harming animals, but what is one of the most common things found in drains? Animals are creatures. This is not limited to the UK; it occurs all over the world. Not just small animals like cats and dogs, but also animals like cows and sheep! Many different animals have been rescued unscathed from drains. There have been reports of alligators prowling the sewers in the US, but most people dismiss this as a myth.

Animals

Animals

Solid Gold

Sewers are a place for waste, but not everything that ends up in them is worthless. In Japan, for example, workers at a treatment facility received 5 million yen in gold in 2009. They discovered the precious metal while processing sludge. They used the metal due to a large number of precision equipment manufacturers in the area. They discovered 1,890 grams of gold per ton of trash!

Solid Gold

Solid Gold

Luxury Watches

In fact, there is more luck in the sewers than we realize. Aaron Large, a drain technician from England, discovered four luxury watches in the drains in 2012. They weren’t just any ordinary watches. He discovered an 18-carat gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph worth £21,000, as well as another Rolex and two more luxurious pieces a few days later. The owner of one watch was eventually found, but the other three were unfortunately fake. Nonetheless, Aaron received a bonus from his employer for his efforts.

Luxury Watches

Luxury Watches

Half A Car

When it comes to sewers and drains, some blockages are more severe than others. For example, one of the largest items ever discovered in London was in 2014, when a drain cleaning company discovered half of a discarded Mini car. While this was an impressive feat, it turned out that unblocking the capital’s sewers that year cost a total of £70 million. We’re sure whoever parked that car regretted it.

Half A Car

Half A Car

Random Jaw Bones

Some items found in sewers, understandably, cannot be identified, no matter how much time is spent examining and studying them. That was the case with the mysterious jaw bone discovered in a Canadian sewer in 2009. The bone could have come from any of a variety of herbivorous animals. Bone discoveries in Canada aren’t as surprising because the region is known to have a higher-than-average distribution of dinosaur remains. Finding a bone in a completed tunnel, on the other hand, is more unusual.

Random Jaw Bones

Random Jaw Bones

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