No option but to walk on Sunday, so I dug my way into le Musée des Égouts de Paris, i.e. the sewer museum. It’s in a real sewer, including some parts that are still in use and smell less than pleasant. Why is this interesting? Simply put, without sewer systems, we’d all be dead of plague and cholera by now, and modern, urban society owes more to the invention of sewer systems than most anyone remembers. It’s easy to forget, since it’s almost completely hidden behind the walls and under the streets.
On a trip to Monoprix’s grocery section a couple days earlier, we’d accumulated a bottle of wine from Bourgogne (Burgundy), some potato chips in the flavor of roast chicken and thyme, a hunk of cheese, an apple, some toasty things, Nutella, and some very thin slices of meat. All were things we wanted to try and figured we’d eat in the hotel room between meals. Well, we didn’t really keep the pace up, so dinner Sunday night involved packing all of this into a shoulder bag, borrowing wine glasses and the corkscrew from our hotel room, and walking down to the Seine. Île Saint-Louis, a short walk from the hotel, has a sort of promenade circling the island about 20 feet below street level and 10 feet above the river, and pretty much every night we saw dozens of people congregating, drinking, talking, and playing music. We figured we’d put on our best act-like-locals guise and head down there ourselves, for as perfect an impromptu ending to our week in Paris as we could possibly have planned. We were perhaps 10-15 years older than the average Parisian along the river, and no one much seemed to care.