Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seeing dead people.

Yes, summer is here.  With temperatures heading for the high twenties a day underground would, we thought, give us some relief from the oppressive heat as the temperature soared into the mid twenties.

Not being the types to wander for hours gazing at other people's tombstones, the catacombs had never been high on our list of things to make and do, but curiosity got the better of us and by late morning we were at the ticket counter where one of us was able to negotiate her first ever seniors' discount.  The other, being younger was excited by this and hoped she would not spend the two Euros she had saved all at once.  

For the unaware in our midst, the "catacombs" were the mining pits which yielded much of the building stone for Paris.   A few hundred years ago, overcrowded cemeteries were creating fears of epidemic, so someone decided to remove the remains of the occupants to the tunnels where they could be artistically (but respectfully) arranged.  For several centuries now, people have queued to marvel at these arrangements some seven or eight stories below the ground, in latter days with somewhat less respect for those interred, waving cameras and iphones in their faces (no flash or tripods please, perhaps lest we wake the dead), than perhaps was afforded in earlier times.

"Interesting" probably sums up the visit, neither macabre nor sombre and with the city placing more importance on the geology than the tombs, we suspect that others also have difficulty in categorising the experience.

As we sat simply enjoying the balmy evening on the banks of the Seine among thousands of others watching the sun set behind the Notre Dame, it was clear that given the choice between being part of an artistic arrangement in the catacombs, or being above the ground in Paris as summer begins to break, where our loyalties would lie.


1 comment

Joan Elizabeth said...

This made me smile because the senior in this family bought his first ever $2.50 train fare the other day. Now I am having trouble keeping him at home.

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