Life in the Kingdom of Death, Paris

Posted on 7th May 2019. In European Weekends, France, Historic.

It was only when I looked into the spaces where eyes once looked back that I realised: I had never seen a real human skull before.

Or a real human skeleton. And I’d never wanted to, particularly.

Yet here I was, deep within the Catacombes of Paris, surrounded by 6 million of them – feeling, well, more alive than ever.

It was Saturday. Outside, Paris was being covered in a fine drizzle of November rain. Down here, [x] metres under the City of Lights, the air hung heavy and black – and around me, stacked high, stacked thick, stacked deep, were the voiceless bones of Paris’s long-dead.

The Paris Catacombes is a side of the city that not many of us see. It’s the dark side of the famous City of Lights – a limestone labyrinth that runs for nearly 200 miles underneath Paris, passing beneath some of its best-loved streets and monuments.

Running directly beneath, The Paris Catacombes are a limestone labyrinth of abandoned centuries-old tunnels that were mined in 19th century to build the beauty of the city above.

During their time, they’ve bore witness to the bloodshed of Paris’s violent history: French Revolutionaries hid out in some of the tunnels, etching the walls with their presence, whilst the German Army built bunkers in others, plotting the end of civilised Europe.

 

City of Light. And City of Darkness. The former is a world many of us see; the world of the Eiffel Tower and Musee D’Orsay.

The latter is a place only a few of us will visit; a place deep in the arteries of Paris. 200 miles of darkness and death and, strangely, hope – known simply as ‘Les Catacombes’ of Paris.

 

It was a wet, Saturday morning when I met my Catacombes tour group in the Montparnasse neighborhood. We gathered outside an innocuous green door, waiting for our guide to lead us in – and down.

Introductions done, we chatted about the Catacombes legends – the ghosts that drift through the tunnels, the souls that have wandered off the main path and never returned. Banter.

 

Running directly beneath some of Paris’s best-loved streets and monuments, The Paris Catacombes are a limestone labyrinth of abandoned centuries-old tunnels that were mined in 19th century to build the beauty of the city above.

During their time, they’ve bore witness to the bloodshed of Paris’s violent history: French Revolutionaries hid out in some of the tunnels, etching the walls with their presence, whilst the German Army built bunkers in others, plotting the end of civilised Europe.

Today’s Catacombes are home to the bones and skulls of some 6 million Paris residents. Nameless. Broken.

 

This is the side of Paris that many won’t see. This is a side of Paris that exists deep underground, in the belly of the most beautiful

 

the city of dark is a world you don’t really see, unless you make a special visit there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Claire Robinson Founder of Weekend Candy
Unique ideas for incredible days off
Weekend Candy showcases the most unique and creative ways to spend a weekend in the UK and Europe! Featuring unusual weekend break destinations, quirky itineraries, and inspired spaces and places to visit!
Founded by me, Claire.
About


Booking.com

Instagram Stories

Hook up on instagram - /weekendcandy


Have you seen
these yet?
Sign-up for the Weekend Edit
A digest to fill your days off full of joy