les catacombes

April 23rd, 2011 / by / in: travel / 2 Responses

Most of our time in Paris was spent sitting in cafes and drinking, but the one touristy thing we did was visit the Paris Catacombs. It was Mike’s idea — going deep underground to look at six million dead people in what is essentially a mass grave wouldn’t ever be my first choice in fun activities. But it was actually pretty cool, in a scary kind of way.

The Catacombs were just two stops away (Denfert-Rochereau) on the RER from our hotel (Luxembourg).

Such a nice day to be traipsing underground!

We arrived around 9:30am (the Catacombs open at 10am) and there was already a long line. We waited about an hour and a half to get in! They only let a few people in at a time, and there’s a maximum of 200 people.

The unassuming door into the Catacombs. Inside was a small ticket booth, and then a steep spiral staircase straight into the ground. It is decidedly NOT for the claustrophobic! There are no bathrooms, and no escape once you’re down there except back up the stairs.

Heading down dizzying spiral to the bottom. (There are 130 stairs on the way down.)

At the bottom of the stairs was a very long tunnel. It was very dark, very quiet, very damp, very narrow, and very eerie. Mike had to crouch a bit for most of the trek — the ceilings were probably about five feet high.

The tunnel eventually opened up into a larger tunnel before the ossuary.

Inside was endless rows of bones mostly arranged in neat piles. So creepy.

My photos make it look more well-lit than it was. Flash photos were prohibited, so I took these by keeping my camera as still as possible.

Six million people equals a lot of bones.

So many bones!


We emerged quite a distance from where we went in, back into the sunlight and through this even more unassuming door. The stairs back up are steeper and seem endless — I was not surprised to note a defibrillator¬†at the top. I was glad we toured the Catacombs, but it was definitely kind of unnerving.

 


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