5 hours ago
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Real Dungeon: Paris Underdark
Modern stylings aside, he looks like an adventurer, doesn't he? That's the sort of person you'd expect to find beneath a great city in old--and often forbidden--tunnels, wherein there's a house of bones, it's entrance bearing the legend: "Stop, this is the Empire of Death."
Everybody's heard of the Catacombs of Paris, the subterranean ossuary and tourist attraction. Morbid spectacle it may be, but its only small part of Paris’ underground tunnel system, all part of the Carrières de Paris--the Quarries of Paris--a network of abandoned limestone and gypsum mines reaching back to the 12th Century.
Only the area of the Catacombs is now open to the public, but it's just a part of the potentially accessible area of the quarries. Delvers known as cataphiles make a hobby of illegal entry into these other tunnels--if not for treasure, at least for adventure.
Here’s a map of a portion of the quarries. It probably helps if you read French...
...or maybe you can just think of it as some suitably accent tongue.
An interative map and a number of pictures can be found at the National Geographic website, and more cool maps can be found in this months issue.