Paris is known for many things, but there is one “district” of the City of Light that you may not have seen before. In the 1700’s the cemeteries in Paris were already full and soon a series of tunnels were built to hold the bones of the city’s deceased. Over the next two centuries, they grew and grew, forming a labyrinth of the macabre now known as the “Les Catacombes de Paris.”
Today the a small portion of the Catacombs serve as a museum, that visitors can access in the 14th district, near the Denefer-Rochereau Metro Station. In the museum you will see the skeletal remains of thousands of Pariseans, arranged in carefully stacked and arranged. There are groups of people who choose to wander deeper into the tunnels, despite the rusty gates warning people to stay out. Where the walls are not covered with bones, you will see 100 year old graffiti protesting injustices throughout French history.
Since much of the tunnels are old stone mines, they serve many other purposes. During World War II, the tunnels were used as a way to secretly get around the city by the French Resistance. The tunnels are also connected to the cities public sewer system. One other interesting use of these tunnels, they are used as wine cellars by those lucky enough to have access to secure parts. The wine can potentially stay good indefinitely, as the sections reserved for this purpose stay at a constant temperature.
Are “Les Catacombes de Paris” somewhere you would want to visit next time you travel to Paris?