And in the middle of Paris will perhaps return the Bièvre

By Denis Cosnard

Posted today at 5:30 p.m.

Obviously, you need a little imagination. For the moment, the rue de la Division-du-Général-Leclerc, in Arcueil (Val-de-Marne), looks like a pretty sad suburb. Pavilions, a cemetery whose walls have been covered with blackish crepe over time, a few new buildings. Below, a small concrete path leads to a bridge that no longer spans anything. That Monday, three homeless sheltered there from the rain. “Wait a few months and you will see! Benoît Kayser nevertheless promises. Here you walk right over the old river. We are going to break the slabs, remove the pipe, dig two meters, recreate a bed and softened banks. The water will pass through it again, including under the bridge. ”

“In the 1950s, we built highways, and we buried rivers. Today, we are reversing the direction of history a little. »Benoît Kayser, project manager at the Val-de-Marne departmental council

The project manager at the Val-de-Marne departmental council assures us: ” It will be very nice. ” Bucolic, according to the promotional design displayed on the neighboring billboard. Couples stroll there on both banks, admiring the vegetation. And in the middle flows a river. Not just any: the Bièvre. The missing river of Paris. Thirty-six kilometers long, including five, in the past, within the capital itself. From its source, in Guyancourt (Yvelines), it walked through Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine and Val-de-Marne then flowed into the Seine at the Austerlitz station.

Now the tributary is completely erased from the city. Remains in the memories, the layout of the streets, some poems. A spectrum in the liquid state. In Arcueil, half a dozen workers are already busy next to the football stadium, very close to the rue de la Division-du-Général-Leclerc. There too, the Bièvre will soon meander. But first, the men in fluorescent orange drive stakes over 15 meters into the ground and complete an imposing masonry. A surprising paradox: to recreate nature in the city, you have to start by injecting concrete, a lot of concrete. “This is essential so that the overhanging stadium does not collapse, explains Benoît Kayser. And also to allow all the water to return to the pipeline, then to continue its journey partly underground to Paris. “

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The Arcueil site, which began in 2019, is due to end at the end of 2021. Expected cost: 10 million euros for a section of 600 meters. The State must also repair the immense bridge over which the A86 motorway passes and which, on stormy days, pours an anthracite juice onto the neighborhood. “In the 1950s, highways like this were being built, and rivers were being buried. Today, we are reversing the direction of history a bit ”, smiles Benoît Kayser.

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