While rummaging through our attic or basements, we often end up finding a lot of interesting and surprising stuff we may have forgotten about. It is one of the blessings that comes with cleaning the house when such incident occur. So can you just imagine the kind of items that a 200 year old canal would contain if it got drained? Just buckle yourselves up because this strange canal has a lot of mysterious items it had been hiding all these years, surprising everyone. On one January day in Paris, a crowd gathered around the Canal Saint-Martin. As they noticed dingy brown depths of the canal, they were about to unfold a lot of secrets that were hidden in it. The water of the canal had drained out, so the bottom layer was completely visible, and it revealed some astonishing facts about the canal.

Intriguing History Of The Canal

So most of you may be wondering how this canal came into being in the first place right? Well. we did a little digging and so we could get the history of this canal that has been a crucial part of this Parisian street’s identity. This incredible canal was actually built in the year 1802 after the famous French leader Napoleon I passed the order for its construction. The total population of the city of Paris during this period was around 550,000 and it was increasing in an alarming amount. So Napoleon felt that the canal would be of huge help in bringing fresh water to this town which and would ultimately rid the town of diseases that were in full flourish during those days. 

The Famous Canal Saint-Martin

This canal was not the only canal to be constructed during that time. It was a time when Paris was growing as a city and so its premises were accordingly modified so as to make it as contemporary as possible. So in the time span of the next two decades, three canals were actually built across the city. These canal were extremely lengthy wherein the total length of the three canals amounted up to more than 80 miles. The Canal Saint-Martin was in fact the most popular out of the rest. This famous canal actually connects the 68-mile Canal de l’Ourcq with the flow of the River Seine. It was the vision of Napoleon and yes, the canal did bring a lot of positive effects to this town. 

The Areas Covered By The Canal

This incredible canal originated from Bassin de l’Arsenal which is located besides the Seine river. Then it travels under the ground underneath Place de la Bastille. The canal then at last, emerges near the Place de la République. From here the canal further heads north towards Bassin de la Villette meeting up with the Canal de l’Ourq and the River Ourcq. Just the length and places it passes through gives the canal enough reasons as to why it is one of the most popular canals in the whole of Paris. Since it has been present for over 200 years, the canal obviously holds a sentimental places in the hearts of the residents who make sure it is well maintained, drained then cleaned every few years.

A Crucial part of Trade And Commerce

If you are wondering how much this canal takes up, we have the answers right here. This canal had made a few important changes in the living conditions of the people living nearby. The Canal Saint-Martin covers a whopping three miles of central Paris. Back in the olden days, the tax collected on wine was made use of as a fund for the canal. This resulted in a historical event in the trade and it further made positive changes as it also brought in fresh water to the city. The canal paved the way for transporting building supplies and food for the people of Paris. So the idea that first propelled this canal to be in full construction paid off and now Parisians were living off of the advantages that the canal offered.

Popular Tourist Place

If you have seen this canal, you are one of the many who have done the touristy thing that most people do while they are in Paris. This canal is a very common tourist spot where people come to learn about its various contributions in history and also in trade and commerce. These days, the canal serves as one of the popular tourist destination in Paris. There are so many people who use this canal as a picnic spot. The locals love to spend time with their loved ones to spend some picnic time and enjoy the beautiful setting the canal has made. Some of Paris’ rich brats also spend their time along the banks and in pavement cafes. Meanwhile, the picturesque bridges are a special attraction for the tourists.  

A Widely Recognized Symbol

The canal had been there for over 2 centuries. Hence, it is quite clear that there has been a lot of historical events that the canal has seen happening in and around the area. It has become a crucial part of Paris’ history ever since its existence. The Canal Saint-Martin has indeed become one of the most recognized symbol the city has to offer. The canal has served as an object of beauty and subject, inspiring a lot of painters to paint the scenic beauty it has to offer. One particular famous painter among the rest would be British impressionist Alfred Sisley. It is one of the most preferred locations for the movie directors. A sequence of the 2001 famous French flick, Amelie was shot at this venue only.  

The Cleaning Process

The historical Canal Saint-Martin is an incredible 200 years old now. How many people can say they have lived through 200 years? This canal has seen so much and has made drastic changes to the living conditions of the residents in Paris. But as we all know, there have been various environmental factors had affected its water quality. The world is a filthy place and most public properties always end up ill-fated and this canal had become one of them. So what could the local people do to save the canal’s degrading state of being. To clean it, the concerned officials would always empty it on a 10 to 15 year time frame. They would then expunge the detritus from its basement. However, in this process, the officials made some incredibly shocking discoveries that the canal held. 

Stunning Discovery

Since this canal is kept for the public’s easy access, had fallen victim to the filthy habits of the people who visit it. It has collected so much garbage that it was now time once again, for the residents to join forces and cleanse it. The Canal Saint-Martin was last drained back in the years 2001. So after doing all the filthy work, the authorities were able to gather almost 40 tons of garbage from the canal. There were so many incredible finds that these cleaners found out. They even found a car, some washing machines, gold coins and two 75mm shells which had its root connected to World War I. This was indeed no joke and the fact that the canal kept all these inside its water, all the while, made it quite shocking. 

The Youth’s To Blame?

As we all know, Paris is a romantic city and is also one of the most lively cities in the world. There are thousands of tourists roaming its streets everyday and also loads of youngsters who use the location of this canal as a place to hang out. It has been reported that the nearby areas around the Canal Saint-Martin became prominent for its nightlife. So, there is bound to be some unbelievable behavior going on in and around the canal’s location. Moreover, the location was mostly favored by the young and rich brats that live in Paris. Hence, this canal was destined to have some very nasty things happen to it. But there was a concern that these people would bring even more trash to the canal from the authorities side.

An Expensive Project

It was high time the people of Paris acted. The canal was increasing getting polluted and it was becoming very obvious as the canal’s water were changing color. So the authorities wasted no time and acted as soon as possible. So the process of emptying the canal began on January 4, 2016. The officials made an estimation that the project would take three months to get completed. We all know that the canal was a lengthy one so it was not going to be an easy job. The canal needed to be cleaned quickly and was in grave need of dedicated residents who would take the job seriously. The project included the moving of some 3 million cubic feet of water and the overall cost for the project was $10 million. 

Shifting Fishes

In a canal that had been flowing for 200 years, there was bound o be some fish that resided in it. The canal is home to several species of fishes and they needed to be safely removed from the canal. So what was the first undertaking? The first target for the workers was to drain the water until the 20 inches of it remained. This would allow them to easily get the fishes out of the canal making their job a lot easier without harming any fish. So after this, they had to transfer the fishes living in the canal. The shifting of fishes to another waterway took three days. There were quite a few fishes in the canal so officials had to make sure every fish was unharmed and successfully transferred.

Secrets Revealed

After a long period of transferring fishes from the drain to another, the draining the whole entirety of water then took place. The water had been so polluted that the bottom of the canal could not even be seen anymore. It did not take too long for the water to get drained as there were no more living organisms to be careful about. So then, the canal was successfully emptied as of January 7. This ended up in an eventual revelation of canal’s secrets for the first time in 15 years. The view astounded the public gathered around the canal’s footbridges. The canal had been hiding so much and it really puts up the question of as to how hygienic the people of Paris are.

Garbage Galore in the canal

As you all could have imagined, the canal was indeed truly filthy at the bottom. It was literally garbage galore at the bottom of the canal. The canal had so much hidden stuff inside and it was a shock to everyone present there. There were different items which were found such as glass bottles, shopping bags, and traffic cones. This stuff bewildered the locals that how such objects could have ended up in the water body. Since it had not been cleaned up for a long while, the canal had become a garbage can for the people that were strolling around the premises. The last time it was cleaned up was way back in 2001, so there were indeed a lot of stuff that one would expect finding and some that you could have never imagined would be there.

Spotting Multiple Bicycles

So, as the cleaning up continued, there were more and more shocking discoveries that were made by the people cleaning the historical canal. It is truly amazing how some of the items found their way there to be quite honest. Some of the most frequent objects which were discovered as the water levels plummeted were bicycles. Most of the bicycles that were found particularly belonged to the city’s Vélib hire system. A scheme was launched in 2007, in which 14,500 bikes had hit the streets of Paris. Unfortunately, many of them were trashed in this canal. What could be the main reason why so many bicycles were to be found in the canal? Could it be that they were stolen?

Not Just Bicycles

The scene looked like one of those mysterious documents about underwater discoveries that sme of us may have watched. “It’s like some kind of weird submarine treasure,” one witness named Marc who was there while the Canal Saint-Martin was cleaned had said in an interview. He further explained about how shocked he was to see all those bicycles saying, “I just can’t believe the quantity of Vélibs in there. I guess they were stolen and thrown in afterward. It’s bizarre.” However, bicycles weren’t the only outlandish things to be found during the cleaning up process. There were a lot other things that made their way into the canal that are also noteworthy and unbelievable.

Motorbikes Discovered As Well

The people made some more very astonishing discoveries in the drained canal. You would not believe what all they found among other filth. There is one particular discovery that became a huge shock to everyone. The people who were there cleaning the canal actually found two motorbikes that had presumably been there for a long while. It raised a flurry of doubts that how did such expensive objects end up trashed in the canal? One may never know the exact truth behind it. This discovery was not the only shocking revelation as there were plenty of mysteries waiting to be discovered. The canal had been hiding so many weird stuff that you have to question what really goes on around the city of Paris.

The List Of Strange Findings Continue…

The canal has a list of weird findings that would confuse anyone as the possibility of some of these objects to be inside a canal is minimal to none. Besides all the the bicycles and motorbikes found, the other pieces of equipment founded were supermarket trolleys, chairs, dustbins, and suitcases. How could the people waling near the canal be so careless? There were some even more fascinating discoveries made by the people who were cleaning the canal. Some more bizarre things were found: a ghetto blaster-style music player, for example, and even an abandoned toilet bowl. These stuff that have been found are certainly unimaginable. How does one lose a toilet bowl in a canal? Just how?

From Bad To Worse

Some of the people present during the time the canal had been drained spoke about the shocking revelation the it had resulted in. They were not holding anything back. “That’s Paris for you,” one person named Bernard who was a bystander to the whole cleaning incident commented. “It’s filthy.” “The last time, I don’t remember seeing so much rubbish in it,” he continued as he spoke about the amount of garbage the canal had collected. “I despair. The youngsters are using it as a dustbin.” After hearing such comments from a Parisian himself, you have to wonder if Paris is indeed a dirty place where people do not follow common decency when it comes to public hygiene.

What About The Future?

So following the discovery of such incredible stuff at the Canal Saint-Martin draining, the question of what is going to happen to it comes up. Will the canal ever be pollution free?Considering all this the authorities had decided to come up front with the answer. “If everyone mucks in and avoids throwing anything into the water,” says the deputy mayor Celia Blauel in one of the interviews she gave regarding the canal. She added these lines an said “we might be able to swim in the canal in a few years.” She seems very hopeful that the canal would have a cleaner future but only if the residents and the visitors work together to avoid throwing their garbage into the canal.

A Rich History01-canal

As the canal is very old, it has gone through a lot. If it were a human being, the Canal Saint-Martin would definitely be one of the wisest human beings ever. It had been there for 200 years so obviously it has experienced a lot. Like we have mentioned before, the canal has made a lot of changes in the history of the good health and commerce of the city of Paris.

Built By Napoleon


The canal was initially constructed based on the idea that it could bring fresh water to the city and also for tax. It ended up being very helpful in terms of both business and for the health of the people of Paris. Who initiated the construction of the canal you ask? Its construction was ordered by none other than Napoleon in 1802 to better the living condition of Paris.

An Avenue For Commerce


There was two main advantages that the canal brought about to the city of Paris. The Canal Saint-Martin was actually designed to bring fresh water to the city’s rapidly growing population. The canal was a blessing to the people of Paris as it also provided an avenue for commerce. It truly helped in upgrading the city to become what it is today. The funding for its construction was procured from tax on wine.

A Strained Canal


So as the city started to grow, the canal was put under immense strain. There was a lot of garbage thrown in it, not to mention the environmental strain it has endured all these years. Today, while still scenic, it has mostly become a watery garbage dump. The color of the water in the canal has also changed to such an extent that the bottom of the canal is no longer visible.

Last Cleaned In 2011


The canal is cleaned up in a span of 10 to 15 years. The residents gather to get rid of all the garbage and pollutants that the canal has collected throughout the years. The canal was becoming as polluted as ever as the last time it was cleaned thoroughly was back in 2001. So the authorities made a decision, that it was once again time to clean it up.

Starting Work


So as the officials had already given a green light to start cleaning the canal, it was soon time for the locals to gather their work boots and start draining the water. The workers soon made their way into the canal bed to begin the cleaning process. Since the canal is very lengthy, there was need for multiple hands and the officials took in as many workers as they possibly could.

40 Tons Of Debris


Since the canal was last cleaned years ago in 2001, it was obvious that there would be a lot of garbage that has been collected inside the canal. The workers started draining the water and the collection of waste began. Even when they initially started the work, they were able to remove over 40 tons of debris and counting! To be fair, the canal does have a lot of visitors so this was sort of expected.

A Strange Sight


Since the canal is one of the main attraction of the city, to see it completely drained was quite shocking for some people. It was a bizarre sight for the city’s residents who hold the canal very dearly to their hearts. When the draining started, the water was so low that you can practically walk across it. To see the canal like this was the first time for some and it indeed startled them.

Boom Boxes

18-boom-boxOne of the weirdest things that the people cleaning the canal discovered hiding at the bottom was a boom box. This must have been from the 90s as we all know that boom boxes are no longer manufacturer by most companies. ‘Why would anyone throw boom box inside a canal?’ is one very good question. Look at the poor thing, it looks like it is frowning right?

Several Bottles, Obviously

07-bottlesOne thing that was expected to be found inside the canal was bottles. We all know that the French love their champagne and wine.They found a lot of wine bottles. The canal is a place where some of the wealthiest and the most spoilt brats come to chill out, so the existence of alcoholic bottles was inevitable. These bottles were the main items that made up the whole garbage.

Bikes And Mopeds


There are a lot more things that the cleaners found in the canal that will further shock you. There were so many bikes and mopeds that you would think the city of Paris has an endless supply of them. People have abandoned thousands of their bikes and mopeds there. It makes you wonder, why would anyone leave their bikes in the canal even if they were not functioning? Have they never heard of a mechanic?

Newly Looking Bikes Thrown As Well


There is one very weird thing about the bikes being thrown. Some of the bikes that have been thrown appear to have been disposed quite recently. They could ever work if kept in the right workshop. Looking at these scooters, it is very upsetting to see that some people are so quick to throw away them. How rich can these people be? It is totally insane!

World War I Links


There were some items that dated back to the first World War. The items that were discovered in the canal included coins, an unexploded shell, and even a car! These old artifacts are now very rare and it was quite interesting to see that the canal had been holding on to them for all these years. Who would have ever thought right? It is truly unbelievable.

What Will Happen Next?


The fate of the canal is now dependent on the locals and the visitor that come to this site. The pollution will hopefully reduce as the canal already holds such a sentimental value to so many Parisians. It has seen the ups and downs of the city so, it is the duty of the residents to take proper care of the canal. Let us hope that everyone cooperates and maintains the canal as best as they can.