Paris...à pied, les yeux ouverts, le nez en l'air
ou l'architecture dans tous ses détails

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Levelling

   

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(click to enlarge)

     

    For once, it's a matter of "eyes down" rather than "up" in order spot the plaques and bollards that mark the levelling of Paris.

    These date from the 1850s when the level of a certain number of reference points was established; these were later used as the basis for the sewerage network (roughly 600 km under the Second Empire i.e. more than 30km a year !) in which the water flows in accordance with gravity and thus has no lowest point. The average sea level in France is that of the Mediterranean which has barely discernible tides.

     

     

    These markers also indicate that the annexation of the villages between the city wall ("Des Fermiers Généraux" 1789) and the fortifications (Thiers 1840) was already outlined in the planned sewerage system because some of them ran alongside main roads (the red RN on road maps) and were thus outside Paris at that time.

     

     

     

    Unfortunately, they are hard to make out under successive layers of paint and neglect by the City of Paris (they are too cheap to restore !). There is an odd one out at avenue President Kennedy which is embossed "general levelling" whereas the others have "Paris levelling".

    Other levelling operations later took place throughout France  by Bourdalou (1860 - 1862) and Lallemand (1884 - 1922) the latter being 7cm. lower than the former. Bordalou markers are especially hard to spot in central Paris even if there are many of them. There is no link with the altitude marker at rue du Télégraph which merely indicates a landmark.