Known as the glittering capital of fashion, art and culture, Paris attracts thousands of visitors yearly. However, behind the glamour of the French capital is an underground wonder with a grisly history. We will explore them now. Some of these sites are not for the faint of heart, but the more adventurous type.
Deep beneath the streets of Paris lays one of France’s most famous dark attraction, Les Catacombes. If you are claustrophobic, this venture will not be for you. A spiral staircase leads visitor’s deep underground through a maze of tunnels steeped in history. These tunnels, which were consecrated when Paris cemeteries began to overflow, holds countless remains that were exhumed in the late 18th century.
A few decades ago, the bones were arranged in an artistic pattern and the subterranean mausoleum became open to visitors. Certainly a spell binding sight, visitors will see looming signs urging them to stop and ponder their decision to enter the realms of the dead, while skulls stare blankly from walls of assembled bones.
This former palace has dungeons dating back to the bloodiest period in French history, “The French Revolution”. The “Terror” of the revolution was a brief but blood washed period during which anyone considered an enemy of the republic was executed.
Thousands spent their final days awaiting execution in cells at La Conciergerie. Just a cut above the rat-infested chambers was French Queen Marie Antoinette’s prison quarters. Those imprisoned were expected to fund their stay in prison while they awaited the guillotine.
Musée des Égouts de Paris (Sewer Museum), as the name suggest this is the bowels of Paris as stomach churning as you can imagine. Take a steep staircase down to tread on walkways suspended directly above the foaming innards of Paris’ sewage.
It is advised not to eat before you venture on this trip as the stench can be overwhelming.
This is a museum of waxwork, which chronicles oozing bodies and frightening illnesses to the last detail. This collection of thousands of anatomical wax models and specimen were collected during the 1800’s. You can view brains in jars and peer at meticulously detailed wax models of tumors.
Paris cemeteries are where you will find fellow travelers, lovers walking hand in hand and artist sketching angels on notepads. You may visit the tomb of Oscar Wilde. Rock pilgrims also visit Lachaise to leave cigarettes and liquor by the grave of Jim Morrison.
Finish off your tour of Paris with a café-crème. Saint-Germain-des-Près has two of the most famous cafes in the city. Café de Flore is where philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte wrote bleakly about how mankind is condemned to be free, while Simone de Beauvoir penned unflinching novellas about the plight of modern women.
So do remember if or when you visit Paris to visit one of these sites if you are up for the adventure!