The Catacombs – Paris, France

We sat in a tiny bar on Rue Rambutea in Paris and spoke of past times and memories over bottles of ale, a lager of some sort that I had never drank before. I was in town for a few days only and had met up with a friend who lived in an apartment above. He described an attraction that he had heard about several kilometres away. It was an underground labyrinth of passageways and chambers that were used to dispose of corpses in old times which now only survived in the form of piles upon piles of skulls and bones. I was unsure why the corpses had been stored there but heard that when Paris graveyards began overflowing or were dug up to make room for more buildings they had been relocated.

We decided to make our way on foot which I knew wasn’t a good idea, as Alex did enjoy a glass of red and I knew that we’d be stopping for a drink every few hundred metres. After a 3 hour walk which should have taken 40 minutes we had arrived. There was a large line winding around a street which led to the entrance, the line didn’t seem to be moving and it slowly sunk in that this was going to be a long wait as the place wasn’t open everyday and was obviously very popular. Alex didn’t do lines and he soon noticed an Australian themed bar in the distance which he suggested we go and drink at. He didn’t speak any English which worked out well for him as he wanted me to ask the Westerners in front of us in the line if they could save our spot while we went and had a few drinks.

Awkwardly I asked the two lads if they could let us back in behind them if we went and withdrew some money from an ATM. They agreed and off we went to the Australian bar which was called Le Café OZ Denfert Rochereau. We started drinking and Alex began telling me in detail about a card game that he had won against a group of Romanians the night before, he had walked away with a leather strapped Breitling watch which he kept showing off and talking about the entire day. After my continuous prompting we made our way back to the line. I knew there was no chance that we would slide back into our place in the queue just like we had never left. We walked up and down several times and realised that the line was moving faster than we’d thought and the two lads must have already gone in.

Le Café OZ Denfert Rochereau

Le Café OZ Denfert Rochereau

Alex suggested we go to the security guard at the front and tell him what happened, but our drinking at a bar was replaced with some kind of emergency situation that required urgent attention. The security guard pointed at the first person in the queue and said that it was up to them if we were allowed to push in or not. It was a husband and wife with their young children, the husband straight away said we could go in front of them but then the wife disagreed which created quite an awkward conversation between the two. A minute passed and the security guard opened the gate to let the next dozen people in and we followed behind the couple unhindered. It was unlike anything we had ever seen before and is definitely a must see attraction when in Paris.

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