Travel

Catacombes de Paris (Paris catacombs)

Paris, as any other centuries-old city, naturally gets truthful and invented stories and legends. Having visited this remarkable European city and having communicated to representatives of the senior generation of its population, you will obviously hear some of them. And believe us, even what you hear seems a fiction, an original and fascinating narration will make an unforgettable impression.

In this article we suggest to have a more detailed look on such a significant phenomenon for inhabitants of the French capital, as Paris catacombs to which a lot of local residents’ attention is paid in the folklore.

The word “the catacomb” itself is capable to make an impressionable person tremble; especially if it is accompanied by a colorful story here such a person can allow his or her imagination run high.

So, if your visit to France contains an excursion across Paris make sure underground Paris is part of it; these catacombs and tunnels are plenty in this city. According to the Parisians many underground ways have been dug long time ago by numerous smugglers with the purpose to deliver every possible goods to the city without fee, so to say, “duty free”. Having wandered on these underground lanes and streets, you will understand that visiting vaults of Paris is not less fascinating, than excursions to Louvre or Tour Eiffel.

Speaking about underground corridors – their extent under Paris makes some hundreds of kilometers; they create some kind of an underground labyrinth with set of entries and exits. These tunnels are settled under a considerable part of the left bank of the Seine, as much space under the right bank is also occupied by them. In many places the depth of the tunnels reaches over twenty meters.

So, tunnels of Paris … it’s high time to put a question: What is the main cause of their occurrence? It is banal enough. Paris – already in the Middle Ages – was a rather big city which constantly grew at the expense of increase in local residents’ well-being and immigrants arriving. To erect new private and public objects builders needed stone, and there was nothing easier, than to dig it from the underground. This is the way how many Parisian catacombs and tunnels appeared.

Already in the eighteenth century there was a special department established by the municipal government which was engaged in registering and protecting of the underground tunnels. Thanks to its efforts each underground street has been plotted on the map of the city under unique names already in those days.

When in the nineteenth century Paris got an underground, the tourists’ interest to the underground city had considerably increased, and the authorities had to limit the number of the tunnels opened for visiting. The Parisian authorities nowadays allow visiting exclusively famous catacombs which are under the Place Denfert-Rochereau particularly, and some other places. However, with the best will you can always find many institutions located underground in Paris, it can be various bars, showrooms, original museums.

Someone can tell, of course, that there are actually no Parisian legends in this article. We have made it on purpose. After all according to an old Russian proverb “it is better to see once, than to hear hundred times”, we urgently recommend you to visit Paris and hear Parisian legends from the mouth of its remarkable inhabitants. And, by the way don’t forget to visit the well-known tunnels of Paris.