So, on to Paris!  History alert: Paris’s sewers date back to 1370 when the first underground system was created under rue Montmartre.  However, the current system was built during Baron Haussmann’s great re-design of the capital city in the 1860′s.  I had heard from numerous people that the tour of the sewers was really cool, so naturally we had to check it out.  This space was near the end of the tour  and the cases featured some of the unique items found in the sewers of Paris over the centuries.  Where did they keep this stuff until now??

I have also heard that the smell isn’t that bad.  I can report with great certainty that it smells like…well, you know.

Continuing with our Tour of the Dank and Macabre, the catacombs were also a must-see.  History alert: In 1786, sanitary conditions around the Saints Innocents cemetery were atrocious due to the overcrowded burial site, so officials decided to close ALL cemeteries within the city.  In work lasting several years, remains were moved to Paris’s abandoned underground quarries, and new cemeteries were established on the city’s outskirts.  Outside, I was surprised at the large number of kid-less adults in the very long waiting line, so I thought this must really be something special.

Definitely NOT for the claustrophobic! But, at least it didn’t smell–much.

I wonder if they sell those stickers in the gift shop.

 This unusually bright spot seemed out of place in  the darkness, but it was striking nonetheless.  And empty.

Dates are scattered throughout the catacombs and often include the years of original burials, as are the names of streets overhead.  A reminder of the world of the living for the people whose grim task it was to stack bones all day long, I suppose.  Caution: creepy picture below.

The rows of bones, while macabre, were thoughtfully stacked in neat, often artistic patterns, plus some bore inscriptions detailing from which cemetery each collection had been removed.  The above are from Saints Innocents.  Camera flashes aren’t allowed, so the glow given off from the occasional lightbulb was the only available light.

Finally, as for shopping, we did find a cool skateboard shop both boys enjoyed. (I was down to just my two at that point.)  We left with a cool backpack fitted with hidden speakers that can be connected to an iPod.  I also managed to fit in a bit of girl shopping.  I look back now and smile at an image of the boys perched on a pink tufted ottoman, surrounded by ballet shoes and pink tutus as I leisurely shopped for the perfect pair of Repetto flats.  Priceless.

Note:  This may look like a re-post to many of you, and you are right.  Sort of.  An editing mistake got the better of me last week when I tried to split what was one very long post into two, but failed to thoroughly check my work.  I hope you enjoyed the changes I made.

3 comments on “A boys guide to Paris

  1. We’ve done the catacombs, but not the sewer tour (I’m hoping to defer that one actually). The catacombs was an amazing place to visit, I found it very moving.

  2. Pingback: » It was all Haussmann’s idea, but… French Cravings

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