Western sanitation was slow to recover from the horrors of the Middle Ages. In Paris, a series of cholera epidemics in the 1830s began the reawakening. A complex system of new sewers (called “Les egouts”) were constructed in the 1840s-1890s and became the pride of Paris. The design father of the complex system of sewers under Paris was Eugéne Belguard. Construction of this system started in 1850, and by 1870 over 500 km of new sewers were either in service or under construction. By 1930, the entire system (a “combined” system) was finished: “One sewer for each street.”

See Tracking Down the Roots of Our Sanitary Sewers for more information.


For Reference

Les Egouts de Paris – an excellent site with photos, books and links. For non-French speakers, try Google Translate

Harold Farnsworth Gray, “Sewerage in Ancient and Medieval Times,” Sewage Works Journal, Volume 12, No. 5 (Sept. 1940), pp. 939 – 946. Reprinted with permission from Sewage Works Journal. Copyright 1940 Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, VA.

See pages 943 for section on Paris.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

“Life in Paris – Sketches Above and Below Ground” (excerpt – section of interest highlighted), Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 45 (Feb. 1854), p. 306-307. Courtesy of The Making of America Digital Collection, Cornell University Library.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

Samuel M. Gray, Proposed Plan for a Sewerage System, and for the Disposal of the Sewage of the City of Providence (Providence: Providence Press Company, Printers to the City, 1884), Appendix A, pp. 3-116 and Plates I – XVI and XXIII.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

F. E. Turneaure and H. L. Russell, Public Water-Supplies, Requirements, Resources, and the Construction of Works (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1916), pp. 1-3, 5, 7-14.

See pages 8-9 for section on Paris.

PDF version (printer-friendly).

For Reference

A series of brochures about the history of Paris sewers and modern design and rehabilitation projects can be found in our Photo/Graphics Section under Paris.


For Reference

Some information about the Paris sewers can be found at The Sewers of Paris: A Brief History. See related site about Tourists in the Sewers of Paris. Also Paris Sewers Museum.