Cataphile; Parisian underground urban explorer, whom wonders endlessly and illegally through the miles and miles (or Kilometers as those pesky french call them) of tunnels, crypts and rooms under Paris.
Once, for one night, I was one of these, and ever since that night I have an inexplicable need, an addictive must to re-vist and explorer further. To succumb to the dark and damp depths, the surprising heat and chilling cold, the fresh yet stale air, the crooks and the crannies, the bones stacked high above me and the tales of lost cataphiles who died under the vibrant streets of Paris exploring through the forbidden labyrinth. One can not explain how exhilarating it was to explore 30 feet below a city. A city of such great stature and historical importance too, I felt like one of Joshuas spies being hidden by Rahab under Jericho.
On a warm and sticky Saturday night in Paris a few friends and myself made our way across the Parisian Metro system. Trainers on, rucksucks containing head-torches, batteries, passports, food and of course wine! To a stop I shan't name to meet our guide touristique. From there the adventure began. We walked and talked for roughly 15 minutes to a bridge, at which point we all hopped over and wandered down to a railway line, of which we then followed along in the dark for around 10 minutes until we came to the entrance, well by entrance I mean a small gash in the in the rocks no larger than 3x3. Time for a quick battery check, smoke and swig of water and down we went.
All I can say is wow, the first 5 minutes take a while. You experience a feeling you probably haven't felt since you were young and climbing a tree much to your parents diswant. The air was fresher that I thought, the damp smell you would imagine was not existent but the dark...the dark was still there. It is hard to explain, but it is like a dark you have never seen before, no flicker of light anywhere to be seen! Anyway, onwards and downwards we turned on our lights and walked and crawled for around 5 hours.
We walked through rooms full of colour, crawled through tiny tunnels on our stomachs. We had time to stop for half an hour for some food and wine, the atmosphere was calm. The feeling of freedom in the catacombs is inexplicable, the sense of exploring and being somewhere you're not supposed to be, the darkness and the history.
I'm not going to explain it too much in words, as I'll bore you to death, but below are some pictures which should explain enough!