Thursday, 17 May 2007

Paris catacombs

Beneath the streets of Paris lurk a labyrinth of some 300 kilometres of tunnels and chambers. These are the catacombs originally limestone quarries dating back as far as the Roman era. In the 18th century when Paris’ graveyards where filling up an already overcrowded city they moved many of the bones underground. You can take the official tour at the entrance at Denfert Rochereau the more daring amongst you might like to try the unofficial tour.

There are entrances usually hidden away on the outskirts of the city next to old railway lines, behind bushes or abandoned buildings. You’ll crawl down a narrow dark hole into the subterraneum wilderness but before embarking on the expedition bring a torch, wellington boots and a map. You’ll trudge for hours through tunnels often the water comes up to you waist. If you’re lucky you’ll reach, ‘La Plage’, Le Chateau or the ‘Circle of Death’ you might even see the German bunker from the war located somewhere beneath the Luxembourg Gardens.

It’s not permitted to go down the catacombs and if the cataflic (the police that patrol the catacombs) catch you’ll get a 60 Euros fine.

But that could be the least of your worries.

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