I’ve been to the Catacombs of Paris museum twice. When it comes to cities, my favorite type of tourism is dark tourism. I like to see where the dreadful went down. And visiting a place that housed 7 million diseased bodies is pretty surreal. On the tour you learn that in fact these tunnels run all throughout Paris. Where there are buildings, there are underground reinforcements to prevent collapses. They don’t tell you about the illegal underground parties, war bunkers, breweries, movie rooms and communities. But they exist…
See, many of the walkways, “galleries”, have been barricaded by police to prevent wanderers from being there. But curious people have made little holes in many of these barricades that you can go inside. Some of the holes are prettttty small.
So, the other night, guided by two who know their way, we crawled down a manhole in Paris then walked, sloshed, hunched, duckwalked, and crawled for kilometers in the dark. My knee high boots were no match for the water so we got pretty wet and muddy. But, I like that. I have the most fun when I end up covered in earth matter.
Our two guides brought us to party rooms and war bunkers. And finally, a throne made of human bones. That’s when I had to get photo ready and sit on a throne made of faceless skulls from the Black Death (as respectfully as possible).
Apparently, in the underground, who you are above doesn’t matter. You have a different name, your career is of no importance. You are an adventurer, someone who wants go see the unseen. They never asked me what I do. This, I liked.
The craziest part is re-emerging. Popping off a manhole cover from inside, hoping no one is standing nearby, then just arriving on a central corner of Paris. It’s as close to time travel as you can experience. Covered in mud, we got an Uber at 4am and went home. I did my best to clean the seat before I left.