Among the Parisian Dead

The Paris CatacombsCorridor Leading Down into the CatacombsDay 2 found me up a little earlier, and moving promptly and directly, with purpose.  This was my day to get it right, to be able to see the catacombs of Paris without waiting in line for four hours…  I made my way much faster and smoother than I had the prior day, and this time exited the metro directly across the street from the catacombs, at 9:20.  The catacombs did not open until 10, however, the line was already very long!  I waited in line, I had no other choice if I wanted to see them, which I did!  Thankfully it wasn’t as long as the prior morning, but it did take a lot of time.  I did not enter the catacombs until around 11:40…

Silence, mortalsThe Paris CatacombsIn the later 1700’s people gradually came to realize that the many cemeteries within the city of Paris were affecting people’s health.  Particularly, one that was near the food market…  It was decided, to dismember these cemeteries, and move the bodies.  But where to?  The city was built on top of a series of underground quarries, where the stone used to build the city came from.  These quarries were converted, and the bones of approximately 6 million Parisians gradually made their way into the catacombs.

Me amongst the Parisian DeadThe Paris CatacombsIf I remember correctly, its about a 2km trek through the underbelly of Paris.  You first go down a lot of steps, and then follow a long, narrow corridor for quite a ways.  You pass some carvings that workers of the quarries made, of little palaces and far away places they had once seen…  Then, you find yourself passing into the empire of the dead.  The chambers are much wider, however, most of that width is taken up by the bones of the dead, all carefully arranged to create patterns along the path.  There are concrete signs scattered along the path, each stating the cemetery that the surrounding bones are from, along with the date that they were moved.

The Paris CatacombsWalking amongst the bones is a very sombering experience.  I heard from somewhere behind me, quietly spoken, “there are so many lives here…”  There is no better way to express it, I will probably never forget what that man said.  There are just so many bones, and so many winding corridors containing them.  As I was wandering through, I couldn’t help but think, the Germans killed 6 million people, the same amount of people as the bones I was walking amongst…



  1. Wow, a fantastic set of shots you got there, such a fascinating place. I would love to visit there some day, Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thank you! It was one of those experiences that you can’t really relate… I tried, but I think the pictures do it far more justice than any words I could ever think of!

      1. I know that feeling, I reckon you did a good job though, loved the images 🙂

  2. […] which I did see and feel while there, but the dark side is undeniable.  First on my list were the catacombs, so it was a relief getting there in time to see them on the second day!  Right up there next to […]

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