The Catacombs of Paris

As I have mentioned in a previous post, my overseas trip last May was the most unplanned of all my travels. I seriously didn’t have a detailed itinerary and just went where my feet took me. On my first day in Paris, my host gave me a map of the city and while I was perusing the ins and out of the Metro, I noticed that, situated at South Western part of Port Royal were the Catacombs of Paris. Being the macabre person that I am (I admit that – I love Zombie flicks and other scary films – however those who know me can attest to the fact that I’m as bright and cheerful as a sunny day in January) I desperately wanted to see this place. I’ve read about the Catacombs in text books and I think we discussed this briefly in one of the many history classes I had to take while I was at Uni.

I got side-tracked by all that Paris had to offer and went to a gazillion other places (even though the Catacombs was just one train stop away from Port Royal). I almost missed seeing the Catacombs but thankfully, on my last day in Paris, I found myself at Place Denfert-Rochereau and standing in line to enter the Catacombs.

The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries (a depository for the bones of the dead) that hold the remains of about 6 million Parisians. It’s 130 steps down to the main area, and it runs about 2kms around the underbelly of Paris. The next 10 images show bits of the Catacomb before you reach the main chambers.

The images following the text may upset viewers. Parental guidance is advised.

I found walking down the hallways quite eerie. I wasn’t scared, and I didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. I can’t explain how I felt during that trip. It wasn’t awe – more like, reverence. I honestly tried to be as respectful as I could whilst I was underground – even while I was taking photos. I felt that, even though this place was just holding bones – it deserved a bit of respect, after all these were human bones – the remains of humans who once lived colourful lives – who experienced joy and sadness, who laughed and cried .. just other people.

I didn’t make much noise and tried to absorb as much as I could given. I was honestly mildly peeved when a group of young tourists just sauntered past making one helluvaruckus and were just … I don’t know, flippant about the whole place. I wanted to tap them on the shoulder and say “Have respect for the dead”. Geez – I really must be growing old if these small things can get me all riled up.

Anyway – a few photos below. I couldn’t take a lot of photos because (1) I didn’t want to disrespect the dead (certainly not the place for a giggly selfie); (2) my small camera’s battery was running low; and (3) my phone battery was running low as well. I told you this wasn’t a well planned trip!

That was definitely an experience. Would I go again – perhaps, if only to pay homage to those who have passed, to show that their lives are remembered – even if I’m not remotely related to any of them.

Catacombs of Paris by Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Paris

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