Saturday, November 01, 2008

Street Cleaning In Paris

One of things that struck me the first time I was in Paris (1981) was the constant street cleaning going on. I came from a small city where the streets were cleaned once a week. That seemed to be enough. But in Paris, the streets are constantly being swept, as are the sidewalks, by people with brooms and people on funny looking machines (San Francisco recently bought some of the sidewalk sweepers from the French manufacturer).

The water flows on a Paris street. I believe this is up behind the Panthéon somewhere, maybe looking toward la Place de la Contrescarpe. Not sure.

Also, twice a day, valves are opened up which send water flowing along the curbs, washing all manner of dirt, grit, and litter into the street drains. In many parts of town there are crews of city employees with brooms, helping to manage the flow and unblocking any little dams that form.

If you look closely (but not in this picture), you may also notice that there is often a little rag barrier near the valves that the sweepers move around to send the water first one way, then another. The running water is just one of those things that is so Parisian to me that I had to take a picture of it. Unfortunately, my picture isn't so great. But with Photoshop, I've been able to make it somewhat presentable.

11 comments:

  1. I was watching a programme a few weeks ago about Paris, and saw just that. But they do have a dual network system...http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=15094714

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  2. Here is the link to some videos. This is the programme I watched..there are 4 parts I think!

    http://video.stv.tv/bc/catchup-greatestcitiesoftheworldwithgriff-part1-20081022-2101/

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  3. I remember seeing the men dressed in blue work suits, with their brooms, sweeping the water at the curb of the street in the morning, as I walked to the Metro. It's a very Paris thing in my memory :) We sure don't have that in St. Louis!

    Judy

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  4. We were fascinated by this system when we first encountered it too, and the bits of carpet used as dams reminded me of flood irrigating crops from my childhood. We were at first horrified by the waste of water, but then found out that it is a closed system, all recycled and stored in reservoirs, which I imagine is what Anne is referring to.

    Judy – the street cleaners wear green overalls now. When people ask on travel forums what they should wear in Paris in order to blend in, they could find that the answer (from certain rather jaded Parisians and travellers) is to wear green overalls, then no one will notice you at all.

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  5. I nvr knew streets can be cleaned in such a way! Genius...

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  6. anne, thanks for the link. It certainly would not make sense to use clean, treated water to wash the streets!

    judy, I know - I've never heard of that system in other cities. I wonder if Paris is the only one?

    susan, and when you spend a significant amount of time in Paris, you become accustomed to the rhythm of the water going on in the morning and again in the evening.

    kyh, those Parisian folks are pretty smart, eh?

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  7. I agree, Parisians are smart. Biased?

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  8. Sans aucun doute, vous êtes biaisés. Je le dit très gentiment.

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  9. The streets of Paris always fascinate me. So even the simple things like cleaning them are just amazing. And I always love how clean the majority of the city feels.

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  10. It must be unnerving for a total stranger to see water flowing in the streets. But knowing that it's how their system works, is indeed fascinating. Aside from that, another thing that amazes me is people's willingness to cooperate in keeping their place clean. Rudy @ Haaker.com

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