Most seasoned travelers to Paris would not be surprised that many of them are walking on countless remains of past Parisians. It is estimated that there are over 6,000,000 bodies, skulls mostly, that are buried in ancient rock mine shafts.
It all began with a gruesome and tragic collapse of a catacombs from the church St. Innocents. This prompted the city engineers to use the remaining mine shafts to bury the dead. Only a portion of these unfortunates are on view and open to the public. Touring the tunnels will cost 5€ and I estimated that only about 10,000 skulls and bones are on display.
Who were these people? What were their lives like? Did they often meet, fall in and out of love? Cry? Laugh? Grieve? Were they happy or were their lives spent living in squalid misery? We only have the blank eyes staring back at us to even give a hint.
But we are confident that as Parisians, they approached life with a certain savoir faire.
Think of it. The sightless eye sockets of 10,000 watch your every move. Try to steal a kiss from a sweetheart or a nip from a flask, you certainly won’t be alone.
Oddly enough, it not a dismal environment.
On the streets above, you’re mostly alone. But in the catacombs you have thousands of friends, although mute, at least they are watching you in their own way.