In addition to the haute cuisine, high fashion and architectural beauties, Paris has another aspect of life, still invisible to a man in the street. Another life is in its full swing in Paris catacombs, gathering eccentrics of all possible subcultures for parties and meetings. The history of catacombs began approximately two thousand years ago, when the first tunnels were built as roman quarries. Since that time, the underground labyrinths were expanded more and more and used as a religious hideout, quarries, beer cellars, subways, bunkers and graves. The total length of catacombs is 300 km long and some of them are not connected.
At the end of the 18th century, the government saw the necessity to convert several rooms of catacombs into mass graves due to the unsanitary and overloading of Parisian cemeteries, resulting in epidemics and outburst of diseases. It took fifteen months to transport millions of bones and rotting bodies from the cemeteries to the catacombs and now they are still stored in the "Empire of Death", as it is written on the door of the graves. Only these graves are open to the public. Many villas and hotels, located near the Orly Airport (the major international airport), provide excellent accommodations and an easy access to the underground Paris if you want to visit the site.
Despite the interest and awe, the catacombs have always caused problems to the safety of Paris constructions. Sometimes, the catacombs collapse and produce holes above the ground and pose damage on buildings. Here is the reason why there is a prohibition to dig new quarries as well as a monitoring of the existing ones. Small observation tunnels were dug in order to allow the quarries monitoring and consolidation. However, this monitoring did not prevent problems during the subway construction and did not prevent underground explorers from illegally visiting the catacombs.
Certainly, this is exciting to explore these intricate underground labyrinths and many adventurers; use the chance! Although the entrance is restricted, these enterprisers enter the catacombs through some places of the subway system, through manholes in some streets and even use explosives. This is the place, where drug dealers, addicts and eccentric visitors have awesome parties and meetings. One group refers to itself as "cataphiles", and some members spend up to several days underground despite the fact that the entrance is illegal and actually dangerous. The catacombs have an intricate map and while some of the tunnels have signs, indicating the names of the streets above, the others do not. Many tunnels are not connected; hence, to get lost for a first-time adventurer is only a matter of time. Some of the tunnels are partially flooded and there are wires, pipes and some other equipment that can cause some damage.
Only two years ago, the French police discovered a hidden chamber with a movie theater, run by the Mexican Perforation group (a French artistic movement that seeks to convey their ideas in underground places). Certainly, this chamber, where the underground life has bitterly pulsed, is not the first and last in the catacombs' history. Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" will always remain a part of Paris life.