A bit of freshness in the catacombs of Paris

@topffer (33792)
France
June 16, 2017 6:41am CST
With the hot weather we have in France, I am not surprised that people are looking for a bit of freshness. The underground old quarries still present under several neigborhoods of Paris may seem to be a good idea to find some freshness, provided that you stay near the entrance. Yesterday, the dogs of the firemen of Paris finally found two 16 and 17 years old teens who were lost since three days in the catacombs. It is a nice place for bones and skulls, but it is less comfortable for living creatures. There are two ways to visit the catacombs. There is an official entrance near the Denfert-Rochereau square, the one with a reduced statue by Bartholdi of his Lion of Belfort. This guy, Bartholdi, had a kind of genius for marketing his sculptures. There are 2 small bronze of his statue of Liberty, one in Paris and the other in Poitiers, Liberty Square (yup, the name of this square is not very original). To be reduced the Lion of Denfert-Rochereau is still a big lion : 7mx4m. Back to the topic. People have to pay an entrance ticket, but the place is clean, well-lit, and the entrance ticket can be also used like an exit-ticket for the same price, which is an advantage. Then there are several hidden accesses to the parts of the catacombs not opened to the public. The access is forbidden, but visiting the «underground» part of the catacombs is a fashion since a few decades. There is no entrance ticket, although a more expensive ticket is possible, as there is also a specific police in the catacombs. Working in wet galleries full of skulls to give a ticket to the visitor who should not be there is probably not a promotion for a policeman, and if the ticket is a small one, the policemen are not that nice for what I heard. I never had the opportunity to visit the «unofficial» part of the catacombs, but I would be tempted. The quarries are full of paintings, tags, and there are interesting buildings, like an old German bunker, or an underground lake, the «swimming pool». I also heard of parties in the catacombs, it is a place where a drum player can play all the night without disturbing his neighbors. People going in the catacombs are usually knowing where they are going, and it is very rare when they do not find the way back, but a large underground quarry is a dangerous maze : I read a few years ago about a man who was found only after 8 days. He had eaten rotten wood and drank muddy water to survive, but had not managed to find an exit in the dark... In old times, mothers were reading to their children the fairy tales of Charles Perrault, and any toddler knew the story of Hop-o’-My-Thumb, a fearsome one : parents could not support anymore their 7 children and had decided to abandon them in a forest. But the youngest child, Hop-o’-My-Thumb, had heard them, he picked small white pebbles in a river that he used to mark his trail in the forest, and he brought back his brothers to home ! Where were your pebbles, guys ? Marker pens and colored pencils work also well when it comes to find the way back in an underground quarry. It is another proof that having some literary foundations can save your life. Photo : Top, a room of the «official» part, picture by Tim Albany. Bottom, another room, in the «unofficial» part of the catacombs, by Cataphile.
12 people like this
13 responses
@Marty1 (32517)
• Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
16 Jun 17
Great information! I have never visited Paris or the country of France for that matter, but adore everything about the country but especially love Paris! I always get something to do with France from my sister on either Christmas or my birthday They are only three days apart with my birthday being December 28. I got a bath shower gel and a lotion with a fragrance thathas the name Paris in it.. Can't rememebr the name of it now the exactly. I have pillows in my room with Paris scenes on them and Eiffel Tower posters! Three statues of the Eiffel Tower, added to that..and other things!
4 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
You are a true fan, you should do a visit. Like in many large cities, the more expensive is the lodging, but you can find not expensive rooms through services like Airbnb in the surroundings suburbs, you have just to check that there is a railway/subway station not far. The catacombs are an exotic place for a visit. The visit is done by museum guides, and they do not forget any visitor inside.
3 people like this
@Marty1 (32517)
• Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
16 Jun 17
@topffer Oh, good@! I would be the fist pen the guides forget inside! I would love to go someday, but am afraid of flying, or i would have been there by now!!
3 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
@Marty1 Except if it is the last visit of the day, you would not stay long in the dark. Another myLot's friend is like you, and refuses to take a plane, and personally I do not want to go to the USA as long as you will have Trump for president.
3 people like this
@LadyDuck (151751)
• Switzerland
16 Jun 17
I am claustrophobic and I had enough visiting the catacomb in Rome, from Piazza Barberini. It was a 2 hour and half tour and I surely will never repeat the experience.
3 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
I visited some catacombs near Rome. The visit was very interesting and I loved it, but I have not been very impressed. I dislike to excavate skeletons, because I am not an anthropologist and reporting any bone on a standard drawing bugs me. I think it is psychosomatic somewhere. I forgot a child skeleton several weeks in the rear trunk of my car, until I remember it when I heard at the radio of a child cadaver found in a trunk.
3 people like this
@LadyDuck (151751)
• Switzerland
16 Jun 17
@topffer I hope you had no problem about the child cadaver. Do you believe I remember nothing of the Catacombs in Rome? I was so sick, I only wanted to get out of there.
3 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
@LadyDuck No, I put it in the local storage depot for excavations where it should have been since weeks. I have been controlled once by the police when I had skeletons from a cemetery in my trunk, and I do not think that they even noticed them, because the bones were numbered in various plastic bags, and the plastic bags corresponding to 1 skeleton in 1 garbage bag to be transported, so they saw only garbage bags. Anyway, when I convey archeological material, I have always an authorization with me.
2 people like this
@JESSY3236 (6224)
• United States
16 Jun 17
I read about that yesterday. I would have been scared. I know it's just bones, but still not knowing which way is out is scary.
2 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
As the City of Paris closes new entrances as soon as they find them, there are very few possible accesses for clandestine visitors, and they should have better not forgotten where was the one they took to go there. Scary, but a good lesson for these teens.
2 people like this
@pgntwo (21630)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
16 Jun 17
@topffer Who is to say there are not access ways to the catacombs from the basement of private houses in Paris?
1 person likes this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
@pgntwo In theory no, it is not authorized by the city. Practically, when I think at the squatters in my home who re-opened old accesses to the neighbors' basements I would not swear it.
1 person likes this
@OneOfMany (12426)
• United States
2 Apr
I never even thought about the catacombs when I was in Paris. I was too distracted by things on the surface!
2 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
3 Apr
The catacombs are just old quarries full of old bones. There are a lot of things more interesting to see at the surface.
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@OneOfMany (12426)
• United States
3 Apr
@topffer Well, after playing games with Catacomb stages in them, they seem cooler. :P
1 person likes this
@pgntwo (21630)
• Derry, Northern Ireland
16 Jun 17
It has been years since I visited any catacombs, and none as big as those in Paris.
2 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
Same for me. I visited these ones for the first time when I was 4 or 5 ; we were not living far. I think that the last time I went there was with a girlfriend who had never visited catacombs, about 10 years ago.
2 people like this
@shshiju (10373)
• Cochin, India
16 Jun 17
Full of skulls and bones that should be a wonderful experience. And also scary when left alone .
2 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
I would prefer to not have to spend a night there in the dark.
1 person likes this
@josie_ (6979)
• Philippines
16 Jun 17
I have watch documentary films about those catacombs. It's not a place i want to be lost for 3 days and in total darkness. Cell phones don't have signal in the catacombs? I notice the photo of the unofficial part of the catacombs have graffiti on the walls, but I believe it makes the place less gloomy. I'm also learning from your post that a French writer was the original source for the Grimm's fairy tales my mother use to tell us when we were children.
2 people like this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
Yes, Perrault inspired Grimm. You have heard of Hop-o’-My-Thumb ? Then you cannot lose yourself in a cave. Cell phones are not working underground. It remembers me a strange news about somebody who was sensible to the waves of a phone transmitter not far from his home and could sleep only in his basement. There are many paintings/graffiti and even some sculptures in the catacombs. The air is always at around 16°C, good in winter, but quite cold in summer, I hope that they had not forgotten to wear a pullover, or they certainly got a cold. I believe that they will not come back there again.
2 people like this
• Pamplona, Spain
16 Jun 17
I wish that the Catacombs of Paris were just down the Road I would off to them in a flash. I like the Kiddies stories of Tom whats his name. So glad they found those teenagers how scary for them also. I used to read an awful lot before and I have learned a lot from those books indeed. Wishing you a great Dinner out tonight with that flashy Shirt you are going to wear. Have a good time tops take care now.
1 person likes this
@topffer (33792)
• France
17 Jun 17
You should take a pullover : there is about 16° C in the catacombs, in winter like in summer. Hop-o'-My-Thumb was very smart, and later he saved his brothers from being eaten by the ogre ; instead the ogre ate by error his own 7 daughters. These fairy tales are good to teach a few things to children related to common sense, like think before acting. But now children prefer to play on a game console or a tablet than to listen to fairy tales. Great mistake, and these two teens can measure their error now. It is certainly very scary, and a good lesson for them. I will write something about the dinner today or tomorrow.
1 person likes this
• Pamplona, Spain
17 Jun 17
@topffer I am really glad he saved them. I still want to go to the Catacombs to get away from all the noise we have to put with here. Like I told you one day they come here to behave like they don´t in their own houses. Last night when everyone would be planning to sleep and they were still with their party a very rowdy one till about three or four in the morning. Which is very nice to have a party but don´t force it on the neighbours. I am sure that they are going to be very popular with all the rest of them. I am no bucket of cold water but yesterday was really taking it to the limit. However the guy next door with his Industrial Greenhouses was there with huge lorries making a terrific racket very early in the morning so I hope just hope that it woke them up a bit. Ha, ha hope so anyway. See you later tops trying to enjoy the peace while its here.
1 person likes this
@topffer (33792)
• France
17 Jun 17
@lovinangelsinstead21 I have always been surprised in Spain to see several times some young children outdoors with their parents at 2 or 3 am. It is another world. Here I guess that many neighbors would have complained and that the noise would have stopped. My street is very peaceful actually, all the usual school traffic is still there, but they seem to have worked seriously for their exams and to be quiet. Yesterday night a few students were singing and screaming during the night, but I remember that I was doing the same after a end year exam. Your neighbors will probably sleep better tonight, and also you.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (117590)
• Boise, Idaho
16 Jun 17
I've seen these in documentaries. Literary foundations and common sense I think could save a few lives.
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@topffer (33792)
• France
17 Jun 17
Yes, a bit of common sense would have avoided some anxiety to the parents of these teens, and their time to the firemen.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (117590)
• Boise, Idaho
17 Jun 17
@topffer ....That's for sure.
1 person likes this
@mandala100 (39200)
• Hong Kong
16 Jun 17
This is an interesting stuff about the catacombs of Paris.
1 person likes this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
Thank you. It is a place to visit if you go to Paris, they are not as old, but as interesting than the catacombs of Rome.
1 person likes this
@mandala100 (39200)
• Hong Kong
19 Jun
@topffer Thanks again for the information.
1 person likes this
@YrNemo (11747)
17 Jun 17
Didn't know about this facet of France (read about the underground network here and there, the result of the second WW, but not these big scale catacombs). The story I read as a child, had only 3 kids. That Hop-o'-My-Thumb family had 7, whoa! Your version seems to enforce the superstitious belief that the 7th child in the family is always the brightest one, who is blessed. (And if it is the 7th child of the 7th child, the kid must be with super power ).
1 person likes this
@tzwrites (4825)
• Romania
16 Jun 17
Must've been pretty bad to get lost in the catacombs for a few days...
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@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
It depends for what. We are in the 30° actually and the catacombs are at around 16° C all the year : good for a bit of freshness. This said, I think that they will not go there again after 3 days in the dark. When something is forbidden, there is a reason...
@JohnRoberts (54131)
• Los Angeles, California
16 Jun 17
I have taken the tour at the official entrance. There have been scary movies about the depths of the catacombs.
1 person likes this
@topffer (33792)
• France
16 Jun 17
It is an interesting visit, I am pleased that you did it. I have lived not far, and my first visit was when I was 4 or 5. An official of the City said that what happened to these teens was very rare. I think you risk more to do a bad encounter than to lose yourself in the forbidden part of the catacombs. However I would only go there with a group and a good guide.
1 person likes this