• LOCATION 18 | Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages

    Roman aqueduct

    Roman aqueduct on Paris audio tour Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages

    Just before the public toilet, there are two pedestrian crossings. Please use the one closest to the bridge to cross the road to your left, towards the stone platform with a blue street sign saying "Avenue Reille".

    Once across, turn left, and walk up the street so that the stone platform and its street-level window will now be to your right. Please stop when you reach the street-level window.

    Dominion over nature was not invented in the 1800s, it was also a thing that the Romans loved. That’s right, when the Romans invaded us, and by us, I mean the Celtic tribe of the Parisii, who were quietly living here without asking for trouble... well, the Romans didn’t like how we dealt with water. We already had soap and everything, we were great at doing business on the river, but they wanted thermal baths. And not really to get clean, but to hang out, do sports and prance around naked.

    As they found the Seine river water too muddy, they built an aqueduct to get their water from sources far away in the countryside, down to the center of their city, “Lutetia” as they called it, or “Lutèce” as we say in modern French. You can still see the ruins of these baths at the Cluny museum in the center of Paris. Does this story remind you of someone?

    That’s right, Belgrand totally ripped off the idea of the aqueduct from the Romans. And he wasn’t the only one, you’ll see in a minute. As you can see behind the window, the aqueduct’s cross-sectional design is pretty simple, made of the trademark “Roman mortar”, with water running at the bottom, and large stone slab on top to prevent it from evaporating. No giant metal pipes here, but it got the job done, and they did waterproof the inside by adding brick to the mortar mix. That's the bit that's pinker than the rest. The metal sign above the window features the Paris coat of arms, and the mythical she-wolf feeding the mythical baby brothers Romulus & Remus, founders of Rome. Remember that drawing for later. Talking about twins, Parisians hold no hard feelings about the invasion. Lots of towns around the world are twinned with other towns, but only Rome and Paris have an exclusive twin town or sister city relationship, because "only Rome is worthy of Paris, and only Paris is worthy of Rome".

    So who else stole the Roman aqueduct idea and path? Let's get moving to find out. Keep walking up the street in the direction of the train bridge.

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Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages