The Parisian sewer system dates back to the 14th century and is one of the most extensive in the world. It has 2,100 kilometres of tunnels and aside from the water mains, holds all sorts of cables. 1.2 million cubic metres of wastewater need to be collected each day. The sewers are open to visitors and house a small museum.
Until the Middle Ages Parisians drew water from the Seine, and the wastewater was poured onto the streets or fields. It wasn’t until 1370 that the first vaulted sewer was built, and the first covered sewer network was opened under Napoleon. Since then, consecutive governments have strived to enlarge the sewer system to better suit Parisians’ needs.
Around 1200, Phillipe Auguste had the Parisian streets paved, incorporating a drain for wastewater in their middle. In 1370 the first vaulted sewer was erected, however, as could be expected, it turned out to be insufficient for the needs of the growing city. Under Louis XIV a large ring sewer was built on the Right Bank, whereas the Biévre River was used as a sewer for the left bank of the Seine. It was Napoleon who had the first Parisian vaulted sewer network built. It was 30 kilometres long. The present Parisian sewer and water supply networks were designed and erected in the middle of the 19th century. Of course they were gradually extended to accommodate the expansion of the city. They were renovated in the 1990s.