While the Bièvre is a small river like hundreds of others in France, the fact that it flows into the Seine in the very heart of the city meant that its economic importance surpassed that of its flow (an honorable 42 cubic meters per second nonetheless).*
* I think that's historian code for 'it was a vast and thorough river of shit'.
The river runs for a length of 32 kilometers and, at its widest point, measures 4 meters. Today it is virtually out of sight, concealed by the urban landscape. The origin of its name is still subject to debate. Beber, beaver in Celtic? This is doubtful, since the river's weak current is ahrdly conducive to the survival of these busy, semi-aquatic rodents. And yet, this creature figures on the coat of arms of the small town of Bièvres, near to its source. However, beber also refers to the color of mud, which is the exact color of the river's water due to the clay-rich soils it churns up, well before the tanneries that pollute it further downstream. Another line of reasoning suggests that the name originates from the Latin verb bibere ("to drink") as a result of the many bistros along its banks. A barside joke perhaps?**
** Is it me, or are they overthinking this?