Old, dead and remembered.

Trip Start Jun 20, 2012
1
59
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Trip End Aug 05, 2012


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Flag of France  , Haute-Normandie,
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Old. The marché d'Aligre to start my morning at 7AM was wonderful. I could clearly picture us walking together past our first proper parisian paved park and into the back entrance of the food market. There was the patchy deer head mounted out the front of the butcher; the colourful florist where I revealed a fascination for the little straw garden witch; I stopped at the stalls where we ate raspberries together and I dived into the boxes and tables laden with trinkets, clothing and cards. I really enjoy the vibe of this flea market, certainly my favourite from Paris. 

Dead. I arrived at the entrance to the Catacombs at about twenty past nine and found myself surprisingly close to the front. Maybe 60 - 100 people in front of me. A little disappointed that it was so much easier than I'd been warned, I sat on the path in the line to await the 10AM opening time. By 10 the line was snaking as far down the street as I could see and had started coming back around a park to turn down another street. The crowds started arriving about ten minutes after me and suddenly my spot towards the front, under one of the few trees available seemed very lucky. I paid admission and made the descent into the first section of the tunnels. There was information in French, English and Italian set out in a sort of welcome hall once you'd come down an impressively steep staircase. Next followed a series of stone passages with ancient carvings, wells and messages written by the millions of visitors over the years. Having to squeeze through a few guided tour groups to continue, I next approached another hall with stone pillars and fossils from and information on the ancient ocean activity which was uncovered when the tunnels were formed. 

From here you step through an archway which informs you you're entering the empire of the dead. The walls of this section, which include a long stretch of passages, corridors and small halls are made up of stacked bones transferred in 1786-8 from over 40 graveyards across Paris and consisting of over 60 million skeletons. 

The ceiling and walls drip in certain areas, leaving puddles in the stone and sand floor and with the darkness, the presence of death and the silent and chilling air the atmosphere certainly leaves a lot of room for superstition and fear to bloom out of control. You will have my hand wrapped tightly around yours when we make it down there together.

Remembered. Monet's gardens and gallery in Giverny are set in a beautiful town an hour out of Paris along the Seine river and a short walk from Vernon. I left Paris with a hot and sunny day of 28 with a possible chance of thunderstorms come nightfall (9PM+ according to the weather report) and yet arrived in Vernon to heavy rain, lightning and the sky cracking impressively. I still walked rather than take the bus and I had fun scaling an old, moss covered wall to walk around a dilapidated building over the river; soaking my shoes to stand by the water's edge with a pair of graceful swans and some playful ducks; exploring an 18th century tower and taking shelter under willow trees and christmas ferns. I definitely must return here to soak it in properly, but I at least got a sense of the majesty and charm of the area. 


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Comments

withintheforest
withintheforest on

I loved this day. So much adventure and excitement. Living it up in Paris :-)

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