Objets Trouvés

May 31, 2005By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Potpourri

What Once Was Lost Now Is Found

An employee stores some of the 500 objects turned in every day.

All is not lost for those whose pockets are picked in the Métro or who lose an antique earring in the street. Paris’s Objets Trouvés (Lost and Found) department is a clearinghouse for all the miscellaneous objects found in the public transport system, taxis, museums or stores, or turned in to the police by good citizens.

This year, the department is celebrating its 200th anniversary – two centuries of collecting, classifying, storing and finally disposing of the forgotten or stolen detritus of everyday life. Cell phones are a dime a dozen here – 30 or 40 are turned in per day, and the department has six or seven thousand of them on its shelves. Altogether, some 500 objects arrive daily. When it rains, umbrellas pour in. In the winter, the department receives an avalanche of gloves and scarves. Wallets – sans cash, of course – are common.

Only 25 percent of the objects turned in are returned to their owners. The rest are sold at public auctions or returned to the finder after a certain period of time (valuable objects are kept longer).

Some unusual items have been turned in over the years, including an artificial leg, a glass eye, three skulls, a funerary urn complete with ashes, a brand-new wedding gown, false teeth, a gold bar (returned to its happy owner), a chain saw, sabers and a Red Army hat. For their own amusement. the department’s 43 employees have put together a little private museum containing some of these items.

Tourists will be relieved to know that the department’s employees speak English. If you lose something, be prepared to provide precise information – the date, time and place of the loss and a detailed description of the object – to improve your chances of retrieving it.

Service des Objets Trouvés: 36, rue des Morillons, 75015 Paris. Tel.: 08 21 00 25 25. Open Mon.-Thurs, 8:30 a.m.-5p.m.; Fri., 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. www.prefecture-police-




Heidi Ellison

© 2005 Paris Update

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