Catacombs of Paris

In the late 1700s major health issues linked to Paris’ cemeteries drove city officials to relocate the cemeteries’ contents to underground quarries which at that time were outside city limits. Over the next 75 years the bones were transported through the streets at night and dumped into quarry wells, then distributed and piled into galleries by quarry workers. The site was consecrated as the Paris Municipal Ossuary in 1786, but took on the name of Catacombs in reference to the Roman catacombs which fascinated the public. Fascinating in their own right, the Paris Catacombs have been open (on and off) to the public since 1809.

Before opening to the public, Inspector Hericart de Thury transformed the Ossuary with an extensive decorative rearrangement of the human remains. He had the bones carefully organized in walls with rows of tibiae alternating with skulls and the remaining bones piled behind. He also added masonry monuments, like columns, altars and steles, to encourage visitors toward introspection and meditation on death.

Here’s a gallery of pictures from our visit to the catacombs …


Had to visit the famed home of Impressionist painter Claude Monet. He lived and worked in Giverny from 1883 until his death in 1926. Monet had a beautiful, rural home and over the years created elaborate country gardens. He even diverted a creek to form the lovely lily ponds after the fashion of the Japanese water gardens often depicted in the many Japanese wood block prints he collected. Couldn’t decide which was more beautiful – the actual gardens, or Monet’s wonderful paintings of them!

More pics …