The hidden catacombs of Paris

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The illegal catacombs feature a wild variety of art, a German bunker from WW2, a former monk font, and more.

I was lucky enough to be taken into the (illegal) hidden catacombs of Paris, by a group of men calling themselves ‘the Cataphiles’.

The illegal catacombs are not the carefully cleaned up, lit by globes and with skulls-all-laid-out-in-a-row version that is open to the public. These are the miles and twisting underground miles of blocked off catacombs, where adventurers roam, risking arrest or worse if a ceiling was to cave in or their headlights were to run out of battery.

I had a ball. We walked, crawled, slid and waded through water from 7 pm to 3 am, 25 metres or more under the bedrock of the City of Lights.

The art down there was incredible, and some of the six million bodies’ worth of bones creepy when we crossed paths. Being French, the Cataphiles brought beer, Camembert cheese, and other delicacies for one of the best candlelight picnics I’ve ever had, covered in yellow clay.

I wrote the story for Get Lost, Australia’s adventure travel magazine, and a version for Royal Auto, RACV’s member magazine.

”We begin to walk, crouch, crawl and wade through the meandering, unpredictable tunnels. At times, it’s so claustrophobic that you have to push your backpack in front of you, while wriggling on your stomach and elbows. Or crawl.
Our chances of being arrested recede the deeper we go. Which is a relief. Now I only have to worry about becoming lost, or dying. Or both.’

Get Lost, June, 2017.

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More art from the catacombs under Paris.

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