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In Photos: Paris Dredges Canal in Hipster Neighborhood, Finds Bicycles, Beer, And a Gun

Workers dredging the historic Canal Saint-Martin to carry out maintenance work have also uncovered several submerged chairs, scooters, and motorbikes — as well as at least one gun, which was quickly seized by police.
Foto di Etienne Rouillon/VICE News

On Monday, Paris city workers began dredging the Canal Saint-Martin, a historic 19th Century waterway that winds through the French capital's northeast.

With its picturesque quays and rustic, wrought iron footbridges, the canal attracts a diverse array of tourists and locals alike, and has become known in recent years as a hotspot for Parisian hipsters. Crowds of onlookers gathered Tuesday along the canal and its footbridges to catch a glimpse of the half-submerged detritus lining the canal bed.


Many of the treasures revealed by the receding waterline are leftovers from nights of quayside picnics and partying. A couple of years ago, the city launched a huge poster campaign to tackle the issue of pollution around the canal, which had become a dumping ground in recent years.

Besides mountains of beer and wine bottles, city workers have also salvaged a slew of bikes from the city's Vélib' bicycle sharing program, as well as several drowned scooters and motorbikes.

According to AFP journalist Myriam Lemétayer, police officers seized a gun that was found in the sludge.

City authorities will carry out maintenance work along the canal over the next three months, fixing locks and cleaning up the canal bed. Some 45 tons of rubbish were retrieved during the last cleanup operation, which took place from 2001 to 2002.

In order to drain the canal, engineers have installed a dam upstream at the Bassin de la Villette reservoir, which has redirected the flow of the canal into the Seine river.

A dozen workers have been tasked with retrieving the nearly 4.5 tons of fish that live in the canal and releasing them upstream.

Clean-up teams will move in on January 8 to remove the mountains of detritus and sludge, and to fix the parts of the canal that need repairing.

Authorities have said the dry waterway should be filled again in early April.

A young man on a scooter leans over a railing to catch a glimpse of the sunken detritus.

Several bikes from the city's Vélib' bicycle sharing program have been tossed into the canal over the years.

Empty beer and wine bottles line the canal bed — relics from the picnics and parties that have given the canal its reputation as a popular nighttime hangout.

Curious crowds watch the receding waterline along a spot made popular by the 2001 movie 'Amélie'.

Two junked scooters sit in several inches of turbid water.

Half-submerged skeletons of unwanted chairs and bicycles line the canal bed.

A motorcycle lies at the bottom of the canal.

Police officers survey the operation from a canal-side walkway.

Traffic cones, bicycles, chairs, metal gates and construction materials lie discarded in the sludge.

A team of fishermen have until Friday to rescue several tons of fish from the drained canal.

The city ordered the cleanup operation to carry out renovation work along the canal and its locks.

A discarded office chair emerges from the water.

All photos by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News

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