It is said that the Catacombs were Nazi underground bunkers during the World War II. The now accessible museum was nicknamed “the conscience of the city” by Victor Hugo in Les Miserables. Oddly enough, that is exactly where open burials took place during the late seventeenth century.
In Search of Lost Time
On a tombstone situated in a cemetery close to France were enshrined the words of John Arlott: “So clear you see those timeless things”. However, to navigate historic cemeteries, you would have to go “in search of lost time” (Marcel Proust) literally or figuratively. The Catacombs have been an object of study in the minds of preeminent leaders including Napoleon III.
Remains of the Eighteenth-Century Paris
Paris couldn’t handle the death count then, hence an open burial scheme was adopted by parishes. Following the resident complaints, the state council would pronounce cemetery evacuation in 1785, which lead to the birth of the Catacombs in 1788. In fact, much of history is painted as wall graffiti, even though the Catacombs still hold in place the remains of the eighteenth century Paris.
The Underground Bunkers for Gallows Humor
Diehard believers of hokum think that dead people come back to life like the phoenix bird. In the tunnels of the Catacombs, what you get for certainly is some amount of gallows humor. Try a sudden “boo” from a dark corner on your Paris tour guide and watch what happens in those tunnels. Who knows which aristocrat shares a distant relation with one of the Parisians?
Different Chapter of French History
At the far end of the RER subway through to Denfert-Rochereau metro is where the macabre is situated. Follow the route map properly and utter SOK as you reach out to the once Parisian place. There is no real connection with the Nazi killings though, for the Catacombs are an altogether different chapter of French history.
If there were such a thing as one place equal of caste and economy, it would resemble greatly with the human skeletons only. No wonder then, the Catacombs treat both aristocrats and normal people as equal. When reaching out to the Catacombs, it may not be a bad idea taking a distant beam torch and a compass – two companions for your grisly Paris tour.