A mind-boggling network of tunnels stretching for 2,100 kilometers beneath the French capital; the sewers of Paris are one of the most unique and impressive sewage systems in the world. The city’s first underground sewer dates back as early as 1370, but the innovative system still in place today started life in 1850, the masterwork of engineer Eugène Belgrand. The vast underground sewers now mirror the city streets above ground, and the tunnels serve not only as waste removal channels, but as host to the city’s water mains, telecommunication cables and traffic light cables.
Somewhat bizarrely, the Paris sewers have also served as a popular tourist attraction ever since the 19th and 20th century, when boat and wagon rides would whisk visitors on a tour of the city’s murky underworld. Today, a section of the sewers remains open to visitors beneath the Pont de l’Alma and tours offer the chance to explore the tunnels, and learn about the engineering marvel at the adjoining Paris Sewer Museum.