Experts Drain Ancient Canal, This Is What They Found

Their Discovery

He would never have thought to look for it at the bottom of the murky waters.

As the crew searched the area for additional clues, others took pictures and started rumors. They were faced with a 200-year-old enigma, and he had a vague idea as to what it all meant.

Night Pests

Fontane hated the Paris nightlife. It brought nothing but rowdy drunkards and ridiculous tourists that only brought garbage and destruction. People didn’t care. They would throw their litter just about anywhere.

His specialty in engineering and preservation made all the problems around him stand out like a sore thumb. The worst was the canal. It was his pet peeve.

Beautiful Waterways

Napoleon had built the marvelous, intricate waterway to bring in fresh drinking water and easier city access. 

But instead of a beautiful river, it was murky with slow-moving gunk, not fit for even the fish living in it. So, when he got called in to head the draining and clean up, he nearly passed out with joy.

Canal Saint-Martin

The canal had always been part of Fontane’s life. He grew up nearby, and it was hard to miss every time he walked past it to go to school or the shops.

It was a famous landmark in its own right, much like the Eiffel Tower. People would do morning walks and jogs along the canal, and that’s how Fontane and his team would discover the horrors that lie within. 

The Good Old Days

Fontane remembers the good old days when the canal was not as murky as it is now. He fondly remembers it as a popular hang-out spot.

People would grab a croissant and a coffee, stand beside the canal, and chat with their friends about their day-to-day lives. Now the canal stinks, and some hidden secrets lie waiting to be discovered.

Not Popular Anymore

Fontane says since then, the canal is no longer a meeting spot. It’s just a place you walk past now. The canal has become a complete garbage dump.

It’s become so unattractive. You can no longer stand next to it and eat. It stinks. And you certainly cannot take photos next to this filthy water.

Not The First Clean-Up

The canal is drained and cleaned every 10-15 years. So you can imagine the amount of filth the canal absorbs.

He was part of the clean-up team in 2001, and it was unbelievable what was found in the depths of the muddy waters. He would find much more than he expected on this latest clean-up mission.

A Big Team

The team Fontane was a part of consisted of many workers and the Minister for Ecological Transition. There were also environmentalists and biologists.

This was no small feat. Everyone had to come together to ensure the canal mission was done properly and that everything found was disposed of in a safe manner. The water also needed to be tested. Imagine what the biologists found when they looked under a microscope.

What Lies Beneath

He had vast teams at his disposal and an even bigger budget for any necessary repairs. 

Redirecting the water was the first obstacle, but he knew the worst part would be seeing whatever lay at the bottom. As the water levels lowered and he saw what awaited the clean-up team, he wanted to cry.

Tons Of Trash

Mounds of beer bottles, lighters, shoes, warped plastic containers, and countless other items of trash poked out from the mud. 

Fontane wanted nothing more than to march up to every bar and hit the patrons in the head with the very bottles they had tossed into the current. But then, he saw something unexpected.

The Canal Is Alive

There has always been an abundance of fish living in the canal. But Fontane hadn’t known that there were so many. 

Tonnes of fish had to be removed from the canal for the clean-up. It looked like there were about three species that he could identify. Fontane thinks they would be better off living somewhere else.

A Day To Remember

He remembers when there was a clean-up in the 90s in the very same canal. He went there with some friends to see what the workers would be pulling out.

He saw scooters, motorbikes, two empty safes, and most intriguing of all, two 75mm shells from the first world war. But nothing would be as exciting as what he saw sticking out of the murky water now.

Something More

It was a glint of silver, something different than the rest of the mess. He had to dig into the sludge some more to see what this was.

They had already found two boom boxes, a toilet, a washing machine, fifteen shopping carts, and two wheelchairs. The workers tugged hard and dislodged it with a loud squelch. It wasn’t something they had expected.

Public Transport

Fontane cursed under his breath. It was one of the shared city bikes that Paris had pushed through in an attempt to reduce cars and carbon emissions. 

It seemed several idiots had stolen many of them, only to toss them into the canal. The more they dug, the more of them they found. But that wasn’t the biggest thing waiting for them.


The team had come across something very sinister. He should’ve known that something like this would make an appearance in the canal.

They found two guns. He was very careful with them. They could still be loaded and working. Could these be weapons linked to crimes that have been committed? Did someone toss away evidence of a murder? There was only one way to find out.

Out Of Place

Miles downstream, they were finally nearing the famous, crowded Place de la Bastille. 

Maybe if more people saw what was happening, they would take an interest and therefore care about their beloved city. The green, slimy walls reeked of rotten fish and stagnation. Then, Fontane spotted something out of place.

A Hole

A patch of wall was practically falling apart. Without the water and waste to hold it in place, it was now crumbling down. 

Fontane let out a long, frustrated sigh. If they had done this decades ago, it wouldn’t be in such a horrendous state. He looked closer. It wasn’t a hole. It was a tunnel.

Amazing Realization

It certainly wasn’t one of the outlets or rain-draining systems. It was old and made as if someone without any concept of engineering had decided to start digging. 

But as the Place de la Bastille came into his peripherals, he came to a startling realization – one that would need experts. 

Law's Long Arm

Not everyone knew what the Place de la Bastille was originally used for. This was one of France’s many historical landmarks.

Before the Revolution, it had been the site of a prison. Even though there was nothing left, foundations still slept under the soil, and 200-year-old secrets still waited. Months later, Fontane’s suspicions were proved correct.

The Bastille

They couldn’t believe it. This was where the infamous Bastille once stood. It was actually used as a prison for the upper-class members of society.

How incredible was it to stand above something so rich in history? It’s like being in a time capsule. But history also had its terrible secrets. What had the prisoners endured in this prison?

Prison Break

This was an escape tunnel. The winding path it took away from the penitentiary and its shoddy workmanship strongly suggested that someone was trying to get out of their jail cell. 

One part of the tunnel was much bigger than the rest of the system, which also told them something else that was very interesting.

Big Structure

This was once a huge structure. It was a castle and fortress to keep out the perils of war. How many prisoners were kept here?

Fontane wondered what horrors they faced. It must have been really bad for someone to dig such an impressive hole in order to escape. All for it not to go anywhere.

Digger's Dreams

It seemed that someone, or many people, had tried to expand the path but failed miserably. 

Maybe past citizens or miscreants had dreams of secret tunnels and smuggling that literally came crashing down on their heads. Since nothing of value was found besides a new historical fact, there was only one option left. 

A History of Crime

It could have been a perfect gateway for a multitude of misdeeds. Drugs and even weapon smuggling.

Could this have been the real reason for constructing such a daring dugout? It was possibly used for prisoners to escape, or it could have been for smugglers to get packages into the prison. Was this what started the French Revolution?

History Revisited

Fontane remembers back to his school history books. He loved history and always visited the library to read for hours. The Bastille was stormed and besieged by Parisians.

This tunnel could be where it was infiltrated. Fontane and his team might have just uncovered one of France’s most important revolts in history. Could it really be?

Prison Revolt

Fontane remembers reading about the raid at the prison. A mob of angry Parisians had come to demand the huge ammunition caches held within the prison walls.

If this is the case, what else will they find in this tunnel as the canal continues to be drained? Will they stumble upon some of the hidden caches of weapons? Or was everything lost, only to be read about in the history books of old?

Best Left In The Past

Fontane was convinced that they wouldn’t find anything of considerable value here. There were only bicycles, bottles, and shopping carts.

How did so many motorbikes and scooters end up in this canal? He wondered about the people who pushed these objects into the water. Was it accidental, or was it done on purpose? We might never know.

The Clean-Up Continues

Fontane frowned as a tourist tossed a coffee cup on the sidewalk. It rolled into their canal, and the clean-up crew scolded the litterbug. 

The repairs to the tunnel were well underway. They couldn’t have the roads caving in after all. The canal was starting to look like something respectable again. But he wanted one more change.

A New Jail

If he had his way, he would bring back the prison. Maybe a few days in a cell would make people think twice about being repulsive and disruptive to his fair Paris. 

Even when the project ended, he was going to keep an eye on things. He wouldn’t let all their hard work go to waste.

Safe For Swimming

News from an environment official had made Fontane have a good laugh. It is said that the canal clean-up would ultimately lead to a ban being lifted for swimming in the canal.

This would be ridiculous, he thought. They had found dead rats and fish in the water. The canal would have to be sanitized ten times over before anyone can take a dip in it. It was a health hazard. But he was still proud that he had a hand in the clean-up.

In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.