The Catacombs of Paris
1 Place Denfert Rochereau, Paris, France
Admission: Tuesday – Friday 2pm – 6pm, Sat-Sun 9am -11am, then 2pm-4pm.
Far below the city streets of Paris, in the quiet, damp darkness, seven million Parisians lie motionless. Their skeletons, long since disinterred from the churchyard graves their survivors left them in, are neatly stacked and aligned to form the walls of nearly one kilometre of walking passage. Welcome to the Denfert-Rochereau Ossuary– The Empire of the Dead.
The catacombs are in origin stone quarries and quite extensive. They are filled with piles of skulls and other bones, that were moved there when the cemeteries of the churches above ground filled up as the city’s population expanded.
As for the ghosts. Well in 1999 a Swedish engineer took some photographs which, when developed, had some very odd lights and mists on them. As she stood by him, his girlfriend’s video camera started going haywire and broke. You’re not supposed to take photographs you see…
It is possible to take a tour of these catacombs. Purchase your ticket, but unless you have nerves of steel, don’t do the tour alone.
The Palace of Versailles
Versailles is one of the most visited buildings in France and among the most spectacular Royal buildings in Europe. Despite the tourists, it still finds time to have some extremely weird things happening in its grounds.
On 10 August 1901, two English ladies, Miss Moberley and Miss Jourdaine were walking in the gardens at Versailles. They had an experience there but kept it quiet for ten years while they did their research, then published it under the title “An Adventure”. They had seen various details in their trip through the gardens, which were not there normally. When they researched it, they found that they would have been there in the period between 1770 and 1771.
There have been other records, dated from the period 1901 – 1950, of the same kind of experience at the Petit Trianon in Versailles grounds. In their publication, Moberley and Jourdaine believed that they had slipped back into about 1789 when Marie Antoinette was in residence. However, the form of the park they described was wrong for that time. To explain the thing rationally, various critics said that they had walked in on a fancy dress party, which were actually given round that time by Count Robert de Montesquieu.
Their story as they told it, however, goes that in 1901, Moberley and Jourdaine visited the Petit Trianon for the first time. It was a hot August day. First, they saw a woman shaking a cloth out of a window and thought little of it. They then turned a corner and saw farm and garden tools. They then began to feel strangely lost. An extraordinary depression settled on them. They began to feel eerie and uncanny but didn’t for a minute think that the people they were seeing were ghosts. They talk about a ‘dreamy and unnatural oppression’. They saw labourers in grey-green coats and tricorn hats. They found a kiosk but not like the one, which existed in 1901. A man was slouching there in a hat and cloak. There was something about him that the ladies disliked. Later a man ran up behind them. He smiled at them and spoke in a strange accent. As they wandered on, lost, they came upon a lady with a green bodice and a white ‘fichu’. Another man appeared and showed them the way. He came out of a door in a disused chapel in which there had been no door for many years in 1901. They heard the door banging behind him.
They walked on and returned to ‘our’ world. In 1902, Miss Moberley and Miss Jourdaine visited Versailles again. They had an experience, but it was different from the first – the place had changed. In 1907, Mr & Mrs Cooke who were English but lived in Paris noted that they had visited Versailles in July. They saw a lady sketching, and said she looked ghostly. The Cookes also mention an electrical hissing noise. In October 1932, Claire Burrow and her pupil Anne Lambert visited Versailles. They hadn’t heard of Moberley and Jourdaine. They also describe the feeling of depression. They saw a woman and an old man in 18th Century dress and a tricorn hat. They spoke to him but couldn’t understand his French. A London solicitor and his wife visited Versailles on 21 May 1955. The weather was close and very heavy – as if a thunderstorm was coming. They saw a woman between two men. She was wearing a very bright yellow dress. They couldn’t recall the shape of the men’s coats. They came closer then vanished. In 1949, Jack Wilkinson, a poultry farmer from Levens in Westmorland, England, saw a woman, but not ghostlike. His wife also saw it. In 1938, Elizabeth Hatton saw something. Later, people researching found a predating experience from 1870 – it was another English person.