20 July 2012

ticket for train

How many bones must a man throw down?

Only two things on the list today: Train ticket and the Paris Catacombs.
Back to Gare du Nord. Back in line. This time we try the TGV. When we get to the desk, we are told you cannot buy TGV tickets at the TGV ticket desk (? so french) So we line back up at the French railway ticket desk. This time we get lucky. This lady speaks english and is willing to help us. We love her! The only downside is that the trains are full and the only ticket available to Macon leaves at 6.45 in the morning from a station across Paris. This will mean a very early rise, but we have no choice. The trains are all booked as today is the start of summer holidays for most of Paris. We have to be in Macon tomorrow as Anna’s brother will be there returning a rental car.
The early wake up is nothing to look forward to, but we do look forward to the catacombs.

Before it’s called a catacomb

The Paris catacombs is the biggest necropolis in the world. Not in size, but in the amount of people buried there. About six million. Back in the day, they quarried the stone for Paris’s big buildings here. When later the city cemeteries got full and became a health hazard, they moved all the bones into the old quarry tunnels. Later, when it was opened for the public, they rearranged the bones a bit to make it look more attractive.
We expected a line, but not one as big as this. The entrance is in a little building on the edge of a round park. The line stretches three quarters around this park, and does not seem to move much. We join and try to be patient. It takes almost three hours to finally buy a ticket and make our way down.

And how many bones must a man go through?

This better be worth it. We waited for three hours to do a one hour walk. The catacombs are very big, but we are only allowed to do this one walk and not explore on our own. We do understand it, but it does take the fun out of it a bit. The skulls and bones are nicely stacked up at the front. Femurs, skulls, femurs, skulls, etc. Everything else was chucked behind. They missed a big opportunity to do something more creative with it. We were not allowed to take photo’s with flash, so sorry if they are blurry.  Winding our way through the named streets underground was interesting though, and although, not fun, was fun.

Before he finds great Auntie Joan?

When leaving, our bags get checked. They want to see that we did not take any bones with us. Andrew makes a joke, but that is not appreciated. To prove his point the Frenchman shows the catch for the last few hours. He has a bag full of bones and even whole skulls that people have tried to smuggle out to take home. Why do people do that? What are you going to do with a strangers skull any way?





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