18.1.10

Catacombs

I did not put any picture here on the top of my post; it might have frightened certain of my visitors. Take this as a warning! :-)

First you have to walk down many steps, then follow some long corridors and then you will find what may frighten some of you (us). We are down in what is called the Catacombs, which also could be called the Paris Municipal Ossuary.

These are actually part of the numerous quarries that you can find under large parts of Paris, totally some 280 km (174 miles). In 1785 it was decided to use a small part of the quarries for the evacuation – for insalubrity reasons - of the Innocents cemetery (see previous post), which had been the central Paris cemetery for centuries. The bones were displaced under decent conditions (blessings, processions...). Later, and during the first part of the 19th century, bones were also removed from other Paris cemeteries. It seems that some also arrived here directly from the guillotine. It is estimated that the remainders of some six million Parisians now rest here and the bones and the skulls are to a large extent ranged in good order.
You can visit part of the Catcombes. You enter at Place Denfert-Rochereau, but you will leave them in a small adjacent street after a walk of some 1,7 km (1 mile). I have tried to approximately show you the trace of the corridors you follow. The temperature remains at a stable 14°C (57°F), which is nice a cold winter day and I guess also a hot summer day.

I tried to avoid the flash use, but it’s partly quite dark down there, so you have to live with a rather low photo quality.

60 comments:

Nathalie said...

Serai-je la première ?

Nathalie said...

Ouiiiiii, la première à visiter les catacombes malgré ton avertissement !

Nathalie said...

I visited the catacombes once as a youngster, thoroughly enjoyed the spooky side of it!

Claudia said...

Truly macabre. Just this Summer I visited a chapel in Evora, Portugal, where the the walls and central pillars are completely covered with human skulls and bones held together by cement. The inscription on top of the door: "Our bones that are here wait for yours!" Needless to say my daughters loved it and weren't intimidated in the least.

Strange sensation, reading this eerie post of yours at this time of night (I'm glad you didn't use the flash when taking the photos).

V Rakesh said...

Whooooo! Creepy!

from cali said...

Creepy cool!

Cheryl said...

Ooo, those catacombs do look scary! Might be one place in Paris I'd happily skip.

Virginia said...

Hmmmm, you were right!!! I probably would have not made it through this place. I'm happy to take your photographic tour instead. Very brave you are, and Alice as well? I'll have to go to her blog and brag on her courage!

And bravo on the low light photography. How did you do it? Oh yes, automatic, automatic!
V

alice said...

Et tu n'as pas eu peur, tout seul avec tous ces squelettes? Tu es très courageux! ;-)

Olivier said...

je les avais visite avec mon école, je me rappelle, on jouait a ce faire peur. C'est vraiment impressionnant à voir, visite a ne pas louper un soir d'Halloween ;o))

Thérèse said...

Claustrophobe que je suis... tu as bien fait avec ton éclairage j'en suis sortie indemne!

hpy said...

J'ai visité une église avec les mêmes ossements à Rome. Finalement ce n'est pas effrayant mais beau.

Catherine said...

Passing through the door of "The Empire Of The Death" !!! With the opportunity of getting out again....Peter, you realised what every of us would dream of, no ?
Furthermore, you transgressed the order Peter ! : "Arrête"...All doors are opened for you, so ?
J'ai trouvé que "Empire of The Death" sonnait mieux en anglais qu'en français.

Adam said...

Ah, so it has reopened after the recent closure. Are there any signs of the vandalism or has it all been nicely cleaned up?

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

The catacombs are a place where not even the dead are safe from prying eyes. I never liked them or the idea.

designslinger.com said...

No flash - good plan.
Captured the feel of the boneyard perfectly.
:-)

Jim

Emilieee said...

I would never have the guts of walking through the catacombs by myself, or even with accompany! :/

Cergie said...

Que de questions posées à la vue de l'entassement d'ossements anonymes...
"Le temps est impitoyable, il détruit et défait jusqu'à l'oubli..."

arabesque said...

haha, something i'm scared to look at, even looking at your photos gave me goose bumps already, but thanks for sharing, i think i saw this in "Paris" (the movie), i wasn;t sure about it then, i thought that was some part of the setting and then you posted this info,thereby confirming that there is really this very macabre place. ^0^

SusuPetal said...

I visited the catacombs when I was in Paris. An interesting place, but not suitable for a claustrophobic person. A powerful sensation to walk there.

krystyna said...

Even the worst places in the great photographer's camera looks splendid.
You used color and light in appropriate proportions.
Great job Peter!

Thanks!

Bagman and Butler said...

Excellent low light work! A fascinating place. I've been to catacombs in Rome but all of the bones have long since become dust so there are just miles of coffin shaped holes. And places where early Christians worshiped.

JM said...

This is amazing! I remember watching a french movie (starring Jean Marais, I suppose) when I was a kid and I was quite impressed by the Paris Catacombes. Now the movie just came to my mind! :-)

JM said...

P.S. I did a little search on IMDb and I think the movie might be 'Les Mystères de Paris' (1962). :-)

ALAIN said...

Ce qui fait peur, ce ne sont pas les ossements, mais bien de penser à tous les gens qui se sont égarés dans ce labyrinthe et qui en sont morts. Il y a quelques années, des soirées y étaient organisées secrètement, je ne sais pas si cela se fait toujours.

Rob said...

Interesting and a fascinating piece of history. Is flash not allowed in the catacombs?

Anna Bobryk photography said...

Qui, exactement Tu comprends ce texte:)?
Il parle de heureux. Il n'est pas immortel etc..:)

Matritensis said...

Wow!!! amazing maybe i´ll be there in march, i´m going to mark this place.
I like this post

Cezar and Léia said...

Now you got really deep into Paris! :)
God bless you!
Cezar

Owen said...

I love the catacombs, it's an incredible place, very sobering...

Thanks so much for bringing it to the surface again, figuratively speaking. There is a wonderful book about the catacombs which describes in great detail the conditions in Paris cemeteries which gave rise to the need to find a solution... which was the catacombs. I wish more of the vast network of stone quarries under Paris could be visited...

claude said...

J'ai pouertant habité pas très loin de l'entrée mais je n'ai jamais eu l'idée d'aller visiter cet endroit.
Voilà qu'avec ton post c'est fait maintenant.

Cutie said...

Would like to visit such place one day. Is it guarded and do you have to pay an entrance fee?

Ruth said...

That's a lot of bones. I have never been down there, but I think I should next time. I wouldn't mind a bit, nor did I mind your photos. :)

Anonymous said...
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Starman said...

I used to think I would like to attend one of those Catacomb parties, but I can't see the point to it now.

amatamari© said...

Oh I did not know these enormous catacombs, a number measureless
of bones ... really impressive!
Beautiful photos although some
lugubrious...
:-)

Thanks for the post!

sonia a. mascaro said...

Peter, I think you are a very good reporter and photographer, too. Well done!

Trotter said...

Hi Peter! Amazing! One place in Paris I've never been to... Was in Rome and felt that I had enough... But I'm well acquainted with «Capela dos Ossos» that Claudia mentioned in her comment... ;)

Peter said...

Nathalie:
First yes ... and thanks for the positive comments! :-)

Claudia:
I saw something similar in Lima (nor photos allowed, so I took only one)!

You should bring your daughters to the Paris catacombs then! :-)

V Rakesh:
I warned you! :-)

Peter said...

From Cali:
As long as you find it cool, it's fine! :-)

Cheryl:
Fortunate then that there are other things to see! :-)

Virginia:
Yes, Alice held my hand (symbollically)! We will have to check if she's posting about it. :-)

Peter said...

Alice:
Je viens de dire que tu étais là! Alors...? :-)

Olivier:
Je suis sur que tu serais plus courageux aujourd'hui! :-)

Thérèse:
Donc, ce n'est pas le lieu idéal pour toi! :-)

Peter said...

hpy:
Oui, les os de Rome sont connus aussi! :-)

Catherine:
Il faut toujours pousser les portes ... et des fois prendre quelques risques! :-)

Adam:
They reopened in December, the place is clean with a number of guards! :-)

Peter said...

Abraham:
There were no crematoriums those days I believe! :-)

Designslinger:
A little more spookey without flash! :-)

Emileee:
At last you are back here again! I'm sure you would could make it with your bf! :-)

Peter said...

Cergie:
Pourtant ces os sont là depuis longtemps! :-)

Arabesque:
Yes, the place is really there! :-)

SusuPetal:
Someone to hold your hand is good! :-)

Peter said...

Krystyna:
Some rather soft pictures ... and a warning! :-)

Bagman & Butler:
Yes, these catacombs are different! :-)

JM:
I think that you are right! Good research! :-)

Peter said...

Alain:
Sans doute, mais je n'entends plus parler ... et j'y vais jamais! :-)

Rob:
I believe that I could have used the flash, but it gave a wrong impression of these dark corridors! :-)

Anna Bobryk:
I used a translation tool! Unfortunately my Polish is non-existant! :-)

Peter said...

Matritensis:
If you come in March, hope to see you! :-)

Cezar:
Deep, deep! :-)

Owen:
Would be interesting to read the book ... and, as you say, see more! :-)

Peter said...

Claude:
Dommage que tu ne sois pas allée! :-)

Cutie:
Well guarded ... and an entrance fee (8 €)! :-)

Peter said...

Ruth:
Good! You should do it then! I may accompany you, if you don't mind! :-)

Comment deleted:
I deleted a spam.

Starman:
A lot of stairs; at least now you have seen what they look like! :-)

Peter said...

Amatamari:
You cannot know everything! Now, you know! :-)

Sonia:
Thanks, you always make nice compliments! :-)

Trotter:
What? A place where you have not been? :-)

Virginia said...

Well Alice didn't comment. Perhaps she was traumatized??? :)
V

from cali said...

If only I were brave enough to check them out in person. ;-)

alice said...

Ha ha! I am not traumatized but my photos are not good enough to make something with...

Peter said...

Virginia:
Obviously not, according to the below comments! Maybe because she was in good company? :-)

From Cali:
I can accompany you, if that helps? :-)

Alice:
My photos could also have been better, but as make them small... :-)

Maya said...

I would love to go down and see this, but I'm claustrophobic and am not sure I could handle it!

Peter said...

Maya:
Maybe with a little help? :-)

Kate said...

I actually have wonderful memories of the catecombs because we took our then 7-yr-old grandson to Paris: the catecombs and sewers were a great hit with him. Other spectators were amused by his comments. Fun to relive thru your photos.

Peter said...

Kate:
Maybe I should also try to bring my grandkids then! :-)

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

"They reopened in December, the place is clean with a number of guards!"

Yay!! I am so glad to know this. I was *so* disappointed at reading about the vandalism, so I am happy to know it has been restored.

My pre-teen son *loved* the Catacombs -- he was almost 13 at the time we went -- and it was a very special day for us. It was the last of the sites we went to together while he was in Paris. (LOL -- maybe that was kind of fitting, no?) We had a great time.

It was hard to get good photos with no flash, and he even had a Canon DSLR with him. Neither of us knew how to change the settings on it, though, for low light. We did get a few good shots, however. I really do think this is a site worth seeing for those who can handle the walking and the feeling of being underground. I thought it was fascinating.

Thank you for your Peter Perspective on it! ;-)

Peter said...

Karin:
Happy to read all this! :-)