Published: September 16th 2007September 6th 2007
Bonjour, je’mapelle Izzy…but you already know that. Today was our first day off after the big tour. Time to kick back and enjoy Paris. We didn’t really have a lot planned for today, except for a quick trip to the Catacombs and a visit to the tourist office to see what else was on offer.
The catacombs are quite a well kept secret of Paris - we only heard about them through the internet, and it took us ten minutes just to find the entrance after exiting the subway. Once inside though, it is worth the effort.
We started off walking through the old sections of quarry (for at least ½ a kilometre) before we got to the crypts. There are km’s of tunnels under Paris, that were originally made by miners quarrying sandstone. The tunnels were converted into mass grave sites when the above ground graveyards in the Les Halles section were completely exhumed due to rampant disease.
All the bones were moved below ground and stacked up in the mining caverns. The femur bones of the skeletons have been placed on top of each other in massive rows to form a wall, with rows of skulls
in between. There are hundreds of piles of these bones, all with different patterns made from the skeletons.
Yes, it is very morbid to walk through the tunnels looking at the deceased people who now rest here, but it is very peaceful and it doesn’t smell of death. It is surprising how many bones are here, as you walked from cavern to cavern.
After exiting the catacombs, using the lights, rather than the thick black line on the ceiling (used by Parisians visiting the catacombs in the days before electricity - imagine coming down here with just a candle!) we headed over to the des Champs Elysees to get some more info on the sights we hadn’t seen.
The girl let us know that we should definitely visit the Montmartre area, with great views over the city, and the St Chapelle Church, known for its stained glass windows.
There was enough time left to quickly check out where Napoleon is buried. The gold plated dome is very impressive from a distance, as is the building.
We didn’t end up going into the actual Church, as the entry fee was pretty steep, and we did see the
inside briefly, without paying. Napoleon’s remains are kept in 7 coffins, one inside the other. We decided to head home after this excursion for a much needed rest, and then have our second meal in the Latin Quarter, which is right where our hotel is situated.
We decided on French cuisine, and got a three course dinner for just 9 Euros. It is so cheap - and delicious. The drinks might cost 4 Euro a pop - but you can hardly whinge about that, when your meal is three courses.
Hopefully, tomorrow, we will be feeling relaxed and rested.
There are more photos below