The Paris Sewers Tour -
A Funny Travel Story

The Paris Sewers Tour -
A Funny Travel Story

The author and his friends visit the Paris sewers, but things don't go as expected. In fact, what happens is much more bizarre.

One of 23 funny travel stories and life lessons in JokeQuote's new ebook.

Normally Peculiar, Chapter 3:

The Sewers of Paris

My French friends looked at me like I was from Mars when I told them I wanted to tour the Paris sewers. You’d have thought I wanted to eat escargot with Velveeta, or hang glide off the Eiffel Tower.

The sewer tour was not something they had ever thought of doing, although they’d heard that you could. Like most natives of a place, there were a great many things in their own city they had never seen or done. Probably because these things would always be available and so there was no hurry.

That, and the fact that there is a lot to see and do in Paris. And maybe some of it might be more interesting than the sewers.

Museums, for example. I’m sure no one person has ever seen all the museums of Paris -- there are just too many. The French are justifiably proud of their history. Paris has been a city for about 2000 years or so, and they tend to hang on to their old stuff. If it survives a few wars and nothing else comes up, they usually make a museum out of it.

Especially if the stuff ever had anything whatsoever to do with anyone who might have slept with or known or even got a glimpse of Napoleon.

Napoleon is to the French what aliens and dinosaurs are to Steven Spielberg. His tomb alone is a testament to the endless fascination and wonderment they feel for him. It’s big, it’s gaudy, and of course, it’s in a museum. I’m not all that up on my French history, but I think he might have been the last French General who actually won anything. So in spite of the fact that he was kind of a nut, they like him.

Anyway, my friends good-naturedly humored me and agreed to accompany me into the Paris sewers. I had read in the guidebook that it was actually quite interesting. There’s a guide who takes you through and shows you the growth, construction, history and architecture of Paris from underneath.

This kind of valuable knowledge would, needless to say, tend to make you enormously popular at parties. It also brings up one of the great job titles of all time: Sewer Guide. I’d love to get my hands on one of those badges.

So the four of us arranged to meet at the entrance to the sewer tour the next morning at the appointed hour. Three of us arrived on time, and as we waited for our late friend, we began to look around. There was a ticket kiosk by a gate which opened onto some steps leading downward and, presumably, to the sewers.

To our supreme disappointment (well, mine anyway), the kiosk was quite obviously shuttered, the gate was just as obviously locked, and there was a big sign in French that said the sewers were not open for touring during this early part of January. Needless to say, we were all bummed. (Well, me anyway.)

So we stood there by the kiosk waiting for our tardy friend and began to make alternate plans. We were so engrossed in our discussion we didn’t notice that an odd thing was happening.

Just as our friend arrived we looked up in amazement to see that 25 or 30 people had lined up behind us, patiently waiting and expecting to get into the sewers! Since we were standing by the ticket booth, they evidently thought we knew something they didn’t, even though everything was locked up tight as a drum and the sign plainly said no go.

This struck me as funny, and before my friends could set our fellow
sewer-seekers straight, I suggested we just move away a few meters and see what happened.

What happened was that the laws of inertia and denial came into effect. These people did not want to move. They were confused by our departure. They had lost their leaders. They did not want to believe the obvious, or admit they had made a kind of goofy assumption.

So they stood there for at least fifteen more minutes, not wanting reality to set in. Finally, in grudging acceptance and obvious disappointment, they began drifting away.

I felt a little like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. It would have made a good Candid Camera.

What this goes to prove is that if you even just look like you know what you’re doing, people will follow you anywhere.

Even down the drain.

© 2014 Greg Tamblyn and

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The Paris Sewers

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