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The Catacombs of Paris

One place that I had been looking forward to seeing in Paris was the Catacombes de Paris. It has been on my bucket-list of Places to Explore ever since I saw it being featured on the 90’s TV show, Scariest Places on Earth.

Paris, being the historical city that it is, has been home to millions of people throughout the centuries. And like every city, its citizens have needs: food, water, shelter, security, a vibrant economy, culture. However, with all that life, also comes death. Millions of Parisians have died here creating a unique situation when it comes to body disposal. So instead of adding to the already numerous and overflowing cemeteries, the local government long-ago decided to just create a network of tunnels underground and to store everyone there in a first-in, first-out basis.

The result of this is the Catacombes de Paris, aka the final resting place for a whole lot of unnamed Parisians who lived back in the Dark Ages, Renaissance til the 19th Century and who died in all sorts of ways: executions, plague, war and famine.


Catacombs of Paris Metro Stop

* Right outside the Denfert-Rochereau station in Paris which is the closest one to the Catacombs entrance. I still can’t get over how beautifully distinct each area in Paris is; so much history and culture all over the place.



Catacombs of Paris Entrance

* At 9am (opening is at 10am), there was already a pretty long line outside the entrance. My cousins and I entertained ourselves by going through the typical male-bonding rituals of making fun of each other, checking out the fashionable Parisians walking about and telling spooky stories to psych us up for the City of the Dead.


Catacombs of Paris Entrance

* The entrance to the Catacombs, cue Twilight Zone theme song!


Catacombs of Paris Entrance

* A flight of stairs almost 5 stories down; the temperature suddenly drops half-way through until it’s very chilly.


Catacombs of Paris

* For the first few underground streets, we were half-expecting some dude in a costume to jump out of the shadows to scare us. The individual audio tour (which I highly recommend you get) made the long walks very informative and enjoyable.


Catacombs of Paris

* Numerous plaques adorn the walls explaining when this particular portion was built and by whom.


Catacombs of Paris

* All the turns, somehow reminded me of the NES game, Dig Dug.


Catacombs of Paris

* So apparently someone hundreds of years ago thought that it was perfectly normal to build a model of the city of the dead hundreds of feet underground as a side-project.


Catacombs of Paris

* Yep, perfectly normal indeed! Miniature soldiers/people would have added an extra layer of creepy.


Catacombs of Paris

* It’s pretty amazing how they were able to build structures like this so deep underground.


Catacombs of Paris

* I have no idea what this means but I’d like to think it’s something like, "Welcome to the City of the Dead, all ye who are damned to have come down here." 


Catacombs of Paris

* Rows and rows of skulls and bones stacked neatly on top of each other like Lego.


Catacombs of Paris

* Of course I had to have a picture with my new friends! Check out how seriously dark it was down there.


Catacombs of Paris

* Much like a maze, only full of dead people. An audio recording of some groaning ghouls would have upped the intensity level.


Catacombs of Paris

* Raul giving us his best "why did I come down here to die" look.


Catacombs of Paris

* Clark giving us his best tour guide / flight attendant / living mannequin impression.


Catacombs of Paris

* Some poor soul (who I shall name Ronaldo) who got a musket bullet to the head! Drive-by shooting 1784 style!


Catacombs of Paris

* Oh what a quaint spot to have a picnic, my dear! Please pass me a sandwich!


Catacombs of Paris

* This is either someone’s tomb, a plaque for remembrance, or as I like to think of it, an altar for pagan worship where blood sacrifice used to be done in the name of Zuul!


Catacombs of Paris

* Skulls and bones from medieval Paris’ Cemetery of the Innocents. What a nice stool to sit on, and such a comfy backrest!


Catacombs of Paris

* Me doing my best impression of a dark priest / ghoul / homeless troublemaker.


Catacombs of Paris

* Hello sir, I think I made a wrong turn somewhere, can you direct me to where the skulls and bones are?


Catacombs of Paris

* Me and the gang trying to be all pensive. This was our “serious” pose.


Catacombs of Paris

* They really should hire a dude wearing a white glowing cloak to just walk these streets, saying nothing.. just minding his own business.


Catacombs of Paris

* With all the time on their hands and their lack of exposure to the sun, the workers sure got creative with the skulls, fashioning them into various patterns, such as that of the Tetris Tetrominos.


Catacombs of Paris

* What an ideal place to play hide-and-seek!


Catacombs of Paris

* Look at the skulls, look how they shine for you!


Catacombs of Paris

* How they built this structure so deep below the surface, I’ll never know. What an impressive feat of engineering with a hint of crazy!

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