Tag Archives: catacombs

17 Jour – Catacombs, Musee Gustave Moreau & Crepes

9 Jul

Can you say creepy? Then you’ve described the Catacombs of Paris. The Catacombs are an underground ossuary located south of the former city gate (the “Barrière d’Enfer” at today’s Place Denfert-Rochereau).

A bit of history from Wikipedia: The ossuary holds the remains of about 6 million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris’stone mines. in the early 18th century, the cemetaries in Paris were overfull and creating less than sanitary conditions in the city. They decided to move the bones to this ossuary. Behind a procession of chanting priests, began a parade of black-covered bone-laden horse-drawn wagons that continued for years to come. In work overseen by the Inspector General of Quarries, Charles-Axel Guillaumot, the bones were deposited in a wide well dug in land bought from a property, “La maison de la Tombe Issoire” (a house near the street of the same name), and distributed throughout the underground caverns by workers below. Also deposited near the same house were crosses, urns and other necropolis memorabilia recovered from Paris’ church graveyards. The Catacombs were opened in the late 18th century. The underground cemetery became a tourist attraction on a small scale from the early 19th century, and has been open to the public on a regular basis from 1867.

I thought it would be cool as in a wax museum kind of way. However, it was quite disturbing to see bones and skulls piled high. I kept thinking about who these skeletons belonged to, what their life had been like…I felt sad.

Since I needed something a bit uplifting after that, we visited the Musée Gustave Moreau. This charming little museum is dedicated to the works of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898). The museum was originally Moreau’s house, transformed by his 1895 decision into a studio and museum of his work with his apartment remaining on the first floor. Today the museum contains Moreau’s drawings, paintings, watercolors, and sculptures. A very enjoyable (and happy) way to spend a couple of hours.

Some of you know I have been dealing with a leg injury. Today for the first time, it acted up. So we decided to take an open air bus. And let me tell you – it was a joy just to sit back, be driven around and feel the breeze in our faces. A welcome change to the Metro.

Since it was Saturday and we only had two more days, we decided to go to restaurants dedicated to traditional French food. Tonight would be crepes, tomorrow would be fondue. The restaurant we chose was near the Eiffel Tower and was amazing! 142 Creperie Contemporaine was a truly French Parisian experience. We were the only tourists in the place! I had a salmon and spinach crepe and Jeff ate one with Mozzarella and ham. These were accompanied by side salads – tres fresh! To wash it all down, we chose cider. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this but it was perfect with the crepes. Great meal to end a terrific day.