This is a collection of my visits to the catacombes. My first visit was a 3 day underground trip(2010). The second time a 2 day trip(2011). The third a solo 2 day trip(2015). In (2016) I did a short visit of some other catacombes that is not so known in Paris.
Our first stop is off the map to the Aqueduc de la Vanne in the far south. We stopped to see the Passe Murreill (Man in the wall.) He is looking worse than ever and definitely in need of some new bandages!
Heading North after this, we are in for some walks through the water and lots of stopping, taking a break to visit Le cellier and La plage for some dinner and to have a look at the new art up there.The new paintings were very good, but there was a shit load of rubbish left in La Plage from a party last weekend.
Good to see the robot with its new arm though!
After these tourist favorites, we start to head out west towards Montparnasse cemetery, i.e. the ossuaries, the bones etc etc. We took some quick shots of the bones and found a cool skull, they even had vein, nerve-ending, kind of things still on the inside of the skull. Nice!
After this, I think we headed over the Raspail Crossroad towards our stop for the night, Assas, which was a spacious, dry room in the North. I had a very good night sleep here, drifting off to the sounds of Air, and not waking to see the cataphiles who came in during the night.
The plan for Saturday was to take a big loop out west which was tiring, but at a nice, steady pace, and we got to see some cool rooms along the way. The GYM room for a quick drink, then the Flag room for lunch. A tall, arched chamber which once had two tricolor ed hung from its wall, and which still had a very nice enamel plaque and a metal sign bearing the French flag, which had been brilliantly restored.
Then a stop at Montparnasse shelter and dusty bitch of a crawl southwards after.A short while later we reached a very nice little room I think it was a new room!
By now it is Saturday evening and a quick stop at some more tourist haunts, German Bunker, Pharmacy Shelter, Carthusian Monks Fountain and Anschluss.
Some very ornate rooms and some time spent trying various Acrobatics on the Anschluss Ladder, and seeing who could get through the smallest hole XD. At Anschluss 3 more people joined us, and they follow for the rest of the trip. We head towards Paleo for the Saturday night. It’s a nice dry gallery, which has a real quarry feel to it, off the beaten track, very low and walls stacked with deads.
Before we slept we had to celebrate somebody’s Birthday later in the evening more people joined 3 French and then another 5. With all that liquid we slept very long so we got ready for the trek back to the south exit. On the way we pass the mine school, Mineralogy office, Dragon Room, Human Bomb Room, Ossa Arida Plates although we do not stop for long . By this time we are ready to make our exit, bumping into some very drunk cataphiles on the way out. We thought they might be cops at first but the smell gave it away! 3 days in catacombs is hard but the longer you’re in it the more you beginning to like it.
In 2011 I went with some friends back to the catacombs to see some less touristic stuff. The trip was more focused on exploring then taking pictures I wanted to see it in a more relaxed vibe then focusing on the perfect picture.
In 2015 I went for the third time.
I’ve been inside the catacombs 4 times. After every visit I question myself why I do this to myself, but after a while I forget the pain and efforts and miss it like home. This was my third visit and probably my hardest visit. Before going to the catacombs I decided too visit first two quarries. I woke up at 2 am too meet up at 6 with Laura a Uk explorer I know for many years. I parked my car close too the parking were all the couch busses stop. I got a text message that said that she would only arrive at 7am so I decided too sleep a bit in the car. My car was parked in front of a public toilet which are common in Paris. In the hour I stayed in the car I saw a homeless using the toilet as public bathroom after 20 minutes the door opens automatically which forced the homeless to go outside on his bare feet and to wait 2 minutes before the door opens again so he could use his new personal bathroom a bit more. After an hour waiting I realized laura was still not there so after some texting back and forward she finally arrived at eight am. As I know laura a bit from previous explores I know she always forget things and today wouldn’t be any different. She forgot a matras and forgot a lens for her camera so she only had a 50 mm which Is really hard to take decent pictures in a quarry especially if u have a camera with a crop factor. The mattress would be also a big problem as we were planning too sleep in a tent the first day and the second day inside the catacombes. The catacombes can be really cold because of the humidity and outside it was also around 0° to – 2°. We decided too go to the first quarry and after go back to Paris and buy a matras in a decathlon store wich was open till eight thirty pm. We arrived at the quarry switched our gear in smaller bags and went down too the entrance of the quarry. The entrance of the quarry was already a real challenge it looked easy but it took us some time too squeeze trough that tiny hole 1,5 meter from ground.
Once Inside I turned on my coleman north star which gives a nice yellow/orange light after a few meters walking the quarry revealed it’s beautiful arches in 2 hallways next to each other. The top of the arches are dated 1762. I grabbed my camera placed it on the tripod took my lamp and started too light paint my picture. Laura asked before the trip if I could bring a suit or something similar for a picture so I switched clothes and posed for some pictures that actually turned out really nice. After that Laura got a bit impatient she wanted too explore the quarry and I wanted to document every corner of the quarry. It took us some time to get a system how we could explore the quarry on a way that everyone was happy. After 6 hours of exploring and photographing we head back to Paris to buy her a matress and to head up to the next location. The next location was also outside Paris and because of traffic jams we only reached our location when it was dark. I parked my car a bit from the forrest we needed to enter and grabbed my tent and all the gear out of the car across my car was a dog already barking and drawing attention so I had to hurry before I got seen. Once inside the forrest we searched a good place to put our tents and in a short time our tents were put and we were cooking food. The tent was placed in a forrest but it was actually super cold the whole night I didn’t sleep well and before I knew it it was daylight. This sand quarry was a lot different then the other one we did and this one was not that big. I had done one before, a similar sand quarry like this but this one was a lot more nicer and more clean without any graffiti.
After few hours we packed our things and head up too Paris for the party. I parked my car in an underground parking and put on my waders and packed my bag as full as I could with water and light. My originally plan was to go to the party and then go out with the group and meet up at another quarry to resume the party and explore the rest of the day the quarry. As I’m not really social and not really a party person I decided that I would stay longer in the catacombes alone and see if I can find my way. My girlfriend was pregnant and this could been one of my last explorers of the year so It was now or never. We head up too the apartment of the girl who’s birthday it was and the reason why we were invited for a party. The girl lived in a fancy old building in the 16th district of Paris and opened the door in bathrobe. We followed her too the back of the building following a long stairs all the way up. Going up the stairs I already felt my bag was too heavy and I already regret taking a extra lens for my camera. The girl was from Canada and lived in Paris in a tiny messy room that could have been a copy from a Japanese apartment. It took some time before the girls got ready and the weirdest things were put in bags for the party. Then we head to the metro to a meeting point were some other cataphiles were. We popped a manhole and lower our bags and food down the hole. We closed the manhole and walked bit further to pop another manhole too lower ourselves down.
With a big group of at least 30 people we rushed trough the catacombes left right straight left again before I knew it I was totally lost and was forced to follow my group to finally reach a room were we lowered our bags. Other people unite with us and with a even bigger group we headed to another secret room. Music was blowing trough the room girls were putting dresses on and food was getting prepared and I was officially in my first cata party.
It was a long night and I met a lot of nice people and even the game twister was being played on the floor. I couldn’t enjoy the party as much as I wanted as I was really tired of the previous days exploring and headed down another room were I placed my mattress and sleeping bag and slept . When I wake I didn’t have any idea how late it was. It was already 12 am but everyone was still sleeping so I grabbed my stuff and went out alone to start my little adventure. I took my maps and started too see were I was and were I wanted too go. I first visited some other rooms that were close to were I slept to after that starting to get farther and farther on the map.
The more I walked the better I got in understanding the map and the system. I was relaxed and at least not lost. After a whole day exploring trough the catacombes I came across a french guy who was there with his kid in my best french we talked a bit he said it was dangerous to go alone and said that most manhole get closed really fast daily. I asked him were he entered and he said he would show me. I followed him and his kid for a long time but it was really hard to follow him . He and his kid were not that big and had a little bag and could go really fast trough the narrow passages. For me it was a lot harder as I had a really big bag and I am really big. The more I followed him the more tired I got the tempo he rushed trough the halls took a lot of my energy. When we reached la plage which is a name for a room inside the catacombes he said too keep going straight and then right and left again and that I would find a manhole that is open. So I continue a bit further all tired and sweating from following him that I decided that it was time too go out my bag was too heavy and I didn’t have enough exits to be comfortable save.
The passage he showed me was getting lower and lower and got eventually so low that I had too go on my knees dragging that heavy bag behind me for km’s and km’s. When your in such passage u learn fast what the word bas and tres bas means in French. My endurance got tested heavily and at some point there was even water in the passage. When I finally reached the manhole I was at the end of my powers. Now I had to climb all the way up the manhole with my bag and tripod and hopefully able to pop up the manhole. When I look up standing under the manhole I fell rain dripping on my face this would make everything a lot worser. I had too climb the wet ladder with my bag of 25-30 kg on one hand going up bit by bit and at every intersection I had too squeeze my bag trough it then go back down grab my tripod and do exactly the same for 30 meters up. At the second intersection my helmet fell all the way down and for a moment I thought my lamp would be dead. Luckilly it didn’t die and after climbing down again I could continue my climb all the way up. By the time I reached the top of the ladder I was soaked of the rain.
Now the hardest of my trip would be tested I had hear stories of people losing fingers or falling down the ladder trying to pop a manhole. I placed my bag against the manhole trying too push as hard as I could but the damn thing didn’t move a bit. At that point a lot went trough my mind like why in godsname I wanted to go alone in the catacombes without knowing any exits or why do such a thing when your girlfriend is sitting at home pregnant. I have been in a lot of difficult and dangerous situations in the past years of exploring and my experience helped me too stay calm and to figure out what to do. I climbed down the ladder and checked my map for a solution. I had two options one option was going out the main exit and getting caught by security another option was searching another manhole or something to get out. I took my bag and tripod and start walking again with totally wet clothes searching my way out. I decided to search another manhole and looked at my map that already looked more like a map eaten by a dog. After some walking I recognize a passage were I walked the day before going to the party. Bit by bit I could go back until I came across the ladder were I went down. This kinda manhole is bit different then the others and is also called finger mangler. I tried pushing it up a bit and it moved a bit at least it wasn’t welded yet ok I was under an exit and all I have to do was pushing it up and not lose a finger. Just as I was planning to give it another try someone open it up from the outside. I trow my bag and tripod outside and let the 2 guys that opened it up go inside and helped closing it for them. I reached the outside world again and felt releaved with only a wet tshirt on I got cold right away and try too put a wet sweater on to at least not freeze to death. I went down the metro trying to figure out were my car was parked. I took the metro and could warm up a bit again at least for a short while after a while I noticed the metro didn’t went exactly were I was planning to go and was actually 10 km’s away from my car I still had some battery on my phone and tried too see what route I could walk to get to my car. So again I had too walk long km’s with my bag on my back and with wet clothes wile it was only 2 degrees. Every km felt like ten and it took me ages to reach the parking. Once I got to the parking I switched clothes to at least feel a bit warmer and drove back home.
A year later I went back again to the catacombes to a secret part of the catacombes that is not connected to the main network. Once again I tried solo exploring the network. Where once again I coudn’t pop the manhole open. Luckily this time friends knew I was alone and that It probably wouldn’t work to get out. This manhole was a 90 kg one and is very hard to open from the inside. Inside the network I saw some amazing rooms and I loved it straight away. The only bad thing for me is that my back doesn’t allow me to go anymore in these low parts of the catacombes. Going so many times with hurting my back made me realize I should stop exploring the catacombes. I don’t know if I ever will go back, I miss it a lot but the pain on my back is probably for the rest of my life. So who knows maybe I just forget the pain and go back or maybe I won’t. I don’t know it’s a love / hate situation.