Under Paris sky walk lovers while under the cobblestones slip in cataphiles. If on the surface the French capital is amazing people with its iconic heritage, underground Paris is just as fascinating.
Because under our feet lays one of the most mysterious places of the City of Lights. It’s called the Paris Catacombs, a web of former underground quarries known to house the remains of millions of Parisians. Wanting to know more? Here are three uncommon anecdotes about them.
An underground maze
Before becoming the ossuary we know today, the Paris Catacombs were a network of former stone quarries that enabled to build the buildings of the capital for centuries. All in all, a 320km-gallery network slither under our feet. The part accessible to the general public only covers 1.7km.
A beach under the cobblestones
If Hogwarts has a chamber of secrets, the Paris Catacombs have several of them. In the part closed to the public lay many uncommon rooms, proof of the rich history of these former underground quarries. Among the most famous of them, La Plage – The Beach – a room with walls covered in a drawing inspired by Hokusai’s wave and floor covered in sand, as well as the Salle du Cellier – the Cellar Room – covered in murals made by street artists.
Paris underground quarries also house several shelters such as a bunker from WWII and other iconic room such as the Salle du Château – The Castle Room – where are found gargoyles and a sculpture of a medieval castle. The Salle Z – Room Z – stands out with the highest ceiling and walls and pillars covered in murals and graffities, it used to be the place for wild parties and concerts in the 80S.
An exploration that can cost you a lot!
The catacombs are fascinating but beware, don’t go exploring the forbidden galleries on your own. In addition to a fine that can go from €60 up to €3,750, you expose yourself to many risks: subsiding, bad encounter or you could simply get lost. And these are just a few examples od the dangers lurking around. And good luck to find help because 65 feet under, you’re not guaranteed to get network.
And believe the unfortunate experience of Philibert Aspairt who was a doorman at the Val-de-Grâce who wandered in the catacombs in 1793 and never found his way out. Found 11 years later, his body has been identified thanks to his bunch of keys and a stele in his memory has been set where he’s been found.