Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The catacombs

First! A thanks to everyone who has been reading and commenting on my blog! It's nice to know I'm not just talking out into space :) and that you are finding my entries enjoyable. I'm trying to keep it up for myself, as well. Writing about the things we experience each day helps to strengthen my memories for later.

Today's adventure was a trip to the catacombs of Paris. Here is an excerpt from the wiki entry on the catacombs:
"The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris are a famous underground ossuary in ParisFrance. Located south of the former city gate, the "Barrière d'Enfer", at today'sPlace Denfert-Rochereau), the ossuary fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris' stone mines. Opened in the late 18th century, the underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1867"

The definition of an ossuary (according to wikipedia) is: "An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary. The greatly reduced space taken up by an ossuary means that it is possible to store the remains of many more people in a single tomb than if the original coffins were left as is"

So we descended below the streets of Paris, into a mine excavated in the 1700's to view the stacked remains of thousands upon thousands who died over the next hundred years... most of those buried in the catacombs had been previously buried in mass graves, as they were too poor to afford their own crypts.

These sculptures were created in the 17th century. The sculptor was killed during a cave-in when they tried to build an access way for the public to come view his work.

This is hard to see, but it tells you that you are entering a sacred area, basically a burial ground.

Here are pictures Noah took as well:

The sheer magnitude of the volume of remains was staggering. One's mortality presses in closely when you stand in the presence of so much death and decay. We were happy to return to the surface, to the land of the living for now. An amazing place.

In other news, we received our refund from EasyJet for our cancelled flight to Venice... now if we can just get the refund for the AirFrance flight we'll be in good shape, no worse for the wear. On the agenda for later this week, the Louvre and Versailles... not to mention a wander through the Latin Quarter.

Au Revoir for now!


  1. Okay, this sounds so nerdy, but all I can think about is how it looks so much like the place in Lord of the Rings where Aragorn called the undead army!

  2. I totally said that while we were in there!!!

  3. @Lori don't be hostile! ;) You can watch all 3 Lord of the Rings movies any time you want :) They're in the entertainment center and they're AMAZING.

  4. Wow, Elisabeth! I haven't been on blogspot much lately, and I had no idea you were in France. Very cool & I will definitely be reading.

    The catacombs look so interesting. Was there a spooky atmosphere about them or was it just amazing to look at?

    Est-ce que tu parles francais? ;)

  5. Ah @Lauren Mais, no, je ne parles pas francais... at least not well... I've found in some cases, Spanish goes a long way. But I'm working on it. I would love to relearn every bit of French I took in college. Sigh.


What's on your mind? I wanna know!