The Catacombs of Paris

On the side of the Square de l'Abbé Migne, very close to Le Lion de Belfort, is a small building with a black door that leads to the resting place of millions of souls. Commonly described as one of the creepiest places on the planet, The Denfert-Rocherereau Ossuary, better known as the Catacombs of Paris, houses some 6 to 7 million bodies. As if the catacombs weren’t fear inducing enough, they now play a dominant role in the 2014 American horror movie, "As Above, So Below". The catacombs came into existence because of the extreme overcrowding of Paris’s cemeteries, most notably Notre Dame Du Boise (Les Innocents), located in the center of the city, and also the old crumbling limestone mines crisscrossing underneath the streets. The mines of Paris literally built the city , and the limestone pulled out of the underground quarries was used to create many of the famous buildings still standing today. As a result of this, some 200 miles of canals still exist under the city, many of which date back to the time of the Romans. A huge amount of these canals still remain uncharted and are a favorite stomping ground among urbex junkies. In 2004 police even discovered a fully furnished speakeasy complete with electricity, multiple phone lines, huge projection screen premiering films, and of course a bar in a previous uncharted part of the catacombs. It’s been said that the screening room was built courtesy of the group La Mexicaine De Perforation, a faction of the underground organization, les UX. This group primarily consists of artists and anonymous citizens largely involved with illegally repairing many of Parisian subterranean chambers, catacombs as well as numerous social projects that the city officials do not deem important enough to undertake.

Once inside the small building, you will began your journey down into the pit of the damned. After descending nearly 60 feet on a spiral staircase into the dark abyss of the paris underground, you reach the catacombs. You will notice a temperature change as the air becomes cold and still. You might even notice the hair on the back of your neck starting to stick up like a scared little kitten. After trekking through a long (1/4 mile) narrow pathway you will reach a carved model of a former french fort, Fort Mohon that was crafted by a former quarry

inspector. After passing through the model, you will reach a stone portal with the words, “arrete! C’est ici l’empire de la mort” which translates to: "Stop! Here lies the empire of death!” Assuming you decided to keep traversing, instead of listening to advice that

was written well before you were a gleam in the eye between 2 strangers at an Eagles concert, you will reach the start of the bone rooms. To be frank, its an incredible site. The sheer amount of bodies interred under the city of Paris is unbelievable. Walls 6 feet thick made of solid femurs,

and skulls flank you on each side, while you scurry through the maze of bones trying not to pee yourself. As you stroll through the winding hallways made of human leg bones, you will come upon massive artistic displays of bones that were arranged in a multitude of patterns. Heart shapes made up of the craniums of some former plague victim dot the wall while actual skull and cross bones are emblazoned next to alters and shrines. There is even a huge keg like circular

structure in the center of one of the larger rooms. Now, before any of you get any bright ideas, the officials working the catacombs get mighty testy if you try to take a lil souvenir home to rest on your mantle. This is reinforced by the numerous signs asking you to “please not steal bones” at the entrance and exit at the catacombs. Due to a couple incidents back in 2009 involving some tourists and a missing skull, don’t be too

surprised if your bag is searched before you leave the mass grave. This is especially true if you look like some shady ass cat covered in tattoos like yours truly. All in all, baring the body cavity search, the catacombs are an extremely interesting place and well worth visiting if you’re in Paris, or if your even remotely interested in macabre history, and/or demented shit. Enjoy!

-Jeff

#paris #france

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