We have read in many popular novels about the secret underground tunnels of Paris. Miles of once claimed (but long forgotten) winding passages, whispering of dusty secrets and torrid rumors. Vampires, lovers, secret societies – it all sparks the imagination and sets curiosity on fire.
Paris’ tunnels in particular seem to hold a special obsession, perhaps because they served as graves for up to some six million people. Since the 1950s though, they have been banned in many areas, although certain parts of these underground lairs remain open for tightly monitored viewing by the public.
Recently, even the familiar Police department was startled when they came across an unexpected surprise on a routine exercise down in the tunnels.
They happened upon a ‘new’ section, with a tarp across its entry with a sign stating ‘Building site, No access.’ Once inside this tunnel, there was a TV camera set up to take images of anyone passing, as well as a tape of dogs barking that would be triggered as well.
Inside, there were several symbols including swastikas, Celtic crosses, and several stars of David. Which lead the Police to believe that this particular section was the result of a secret society.
Most surprisingly, there was also a movie theater inside! Cut into the wall were chairs, and there was a full-sized movie screen, equipment, plus movies. None of the movies were out of the usual, however.
Over in a small cave, next to this underground movie theater, was a sort of restaurant and bar, with liquor, tables, chairs, and the like.
There were even phone lines and an electric system throughout!
However, when the Police and experts returned to examine the site just a few days later, the lines had been cut and a note was left on the floor reading, “Do not try to find us.” A dramatic and fitting final scene in this house of movies.
The history surrounding these catacombs, however, is not seeded in some deep love of cinema. The catacombs are actually only about eight-hundredth of what lies under Paris, the rest is quarries.
The catacombs were built to resolve the issues that were surrounding the dead, there were so many, that a place was needed for the overflow, and hence, the catacombs and mystery were born.
More than one novel has fallen in love with the dark allure of such a place, and what secrets it might hold below the dainty surface of the City of Lights. Rumors spread like the fire of dozens of secret societies that may harbor their own uses for the more forgotten tunnels, and indeed several instances such as the underground movie theater have arisen over the years.
What is curious to me, however, is not what we know of these trailing tunnels, but what we don’t. If sophistication was brought below to serve supposed entertainment purposes (a type of adult clubhouse – ‘No Nosey’s Allowed’), what else might we find? What secrets lie buried, just beneath the surface?