One of the great things about my journey as a sales rep is traveling. Some hate it, complain about it, but I really enjoy being out and about. Sometimes it is just a simple product demonstration, maybe a leak detection training session, or a “due diligence” trip to research a new concept or product to sell. The one constant is that I am always discovering something new. A new road, a beautiful view, a new technology, an interesting product, a great restaurant…..all of which add to my sense of joy and yes my waistline too !
In June I had the opportunity to travel to France and Germany to look for additional tools to add to the Pipe Tools product line. The first stop was Paris to attend the World Gas Congress and meet with two potential suppliers. My work at the trade show was completed rather quickly as the products were not a real good fit for Pipe Tools. So I ventured out into Paris, as one of the 1.8 million Americans who visit every year.
I visited the regular tourist spots including Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, the Orsay, Napoléon’s Tomb, Arc de Triomphe, and took a nice walk along the Sein River. All these sights were great and well worth doing. However, being a sewer and drain cleaner for 30 years and selling sewer cameras, sewer cleaners, and sewer locators I had to visit ….yes…. the Paris Sewer Tour !!
If you are in the drain and sewer business, plumber, vacuum truck operator, water operator, environmental engineer, or just plain interested in history it was well worth the short time it took to see the museum. The entrance to the museum is located near Ponte de L’Alma, a bridge crossing the Sein. It is near the River Side Promenade on the Eiffel Tower side of the Sein River. Evidently sewer tours have been popular in Paris since the mid-19th Century.
Aside from the history of the Paris system, several things I found interesting included the general concept of having a large accessible utility tunnel for both water and sewer. I usually worked in small systems where 12 inch was as big as was needed. It must have consumed a large amount of infrastructure money at the time to build that system. Water and sewer running together in the same tunnel allowing access to valves, water services, and the sewer trough all at one time…. an interesting concept.
Secondly, the creative ways sewers were cleaned mechanically in the old days. The museum contained examples of cleaning techniques. I could not help think about the men working and listening for a horn to blow at the first sign of rain as the tunnel could flood from storm water. How much has evolved. Mechanical clam shell buckets, dredges, and the machine gun sewer cleaner (see pictures below) were just a few examples presented.
Thirdly, I got to see the famous sewer ball used to clean out the syphon sewers as sewage travels from one side of the river to the other. It must have taken special rigging to extract a ball of that size and weight from the sewer and transport it back to its original starting position.
So if you find yourself in Paris, take a few moments out of your busy day to visit something off beat, Historical, and fun too. The Paris Sewer Tour.