Tuesday, October 04, 2011

L'eau qui coule

Something that always fascinated me about Paris was that in most neighborhoods, often twice a day, water will start flowing out of a spigot in the curb and run along to the nearest drain. There is sometimes a city worker sweeping along the stream of water, and in some places the worker will lay a rolled up towel in the street to change the direction of the flow. This is how the street gutters are cleaned.

Flushing the gutters in the rue de Bablyone.

In the neighborhood where I lived, this happened twice a day; once in the morning and again in the evening. They guys, often of North African origin, had long straw brooms that looked like the typical witch's broom. Over the years those straw brooms were traded out for green plastic brooms, but they serve the same purpose of cleaning the street gutters.

There are more modern techniques for sidewalk and street cleaning around the city these days. Amazing green machines that vacuum and wash the pavements are driven around all over. But the water still runs in the gutters, just like in this picture of the rue de Babylone.


  1. Many years ago, I took a photo of one of the street cleaning people, wielding his broom in the morning sunshine, making quite a charming scene, I thought. Then he spat at me and waved two fingers.

  2. Washing the pavement! I can only dream.

  3. It was a while before I figured out purpose the rolled carpet pieces.

  4. Judy - I still have the photo, plus the one of him giving me the 2-finger salute. When I thought about it afterwards, I suppose I wouldn't be too pleased if someone photographed me doing my job first thing in the morning, but I wouldn't spit at them !!

  5. I guess that the cleaning of the gutters could help make one part of the footpath free of dog poo!


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