GES066 - Paris Catacombes
After running from trains and running off from footsteps in the dark, it was time for myself, GE095 and GE099 to get down into the catacombs. GE099 parked up approximately 400 miles from the entry point. So we walked carrying our waders and other bits and bobs for what felt like miles.
The entry consisted of what seemed like a never ending walk down some train tracks. It was annoying because one couldn't walk normal steps (normal for someone my height), due to the encroaching of nature. So we had to walk on the sleepers. Numerous attempts to walk on the rails were doomed to failure. In the distance we could see lights of people moving about. But due to the flat nature of the railway line, it would take for ever to actually run into them.
We finally pulled up at a platform just before a tunnel, and got into our waders. GE095 being of the Cave Clan variety laughed at our pathetic rubber clad legs, as she skipped off in her flips flops. GE099 sorts himself out and prepares his carbide lamp. Something I'd never seen before.
We then walked off into the gloom of a long tunnel, finally passing the people with the lights. After more walking in the pitch blackness, we found the spot we were after. GE095, a veteran of the Catas, leapt down, eager to return as she's a big fan. I said goodbye to the surface world, and climbed down into the hole. I'd done some quarry tunnels a few months previous, so was ready for the wandering around underground and claustrophobic properties.
All together, GE099 led off along a passage I had to bend over to walk up. We then came into another higher passage, although I still had to tilt my head to one side. This was Avenue Jordan, which is the main road in the Catas and goes on for miles, sorry, kilometres.
It wasn't long before I realised why we nancy boys were in waders, as a side passage we went down had a flooded section. GE095 went first so she could pic her way around the precarious floor at the bottom of the water, while it was undisturbed. As the Catas have a mild ambient all year round temperature, I'm sure the water wasn't that cold, but I was happy in my waders.
We continued on through the passages, turning here and there, ducking and dodging low bits of ceiling. GE095 referred to sudden drops in roof height as 'Headhunters', never a word more appropriate.
GE099 lead the way, his superfast walking style brushing up dust in his wake, carbide lamp lighting the way at his side. He rarely looked at his map, and moved about by instinct, memories of having passed places before and so forth. At junctions that looked fairly similar, he knew whether it was a gauche or a droite.
Finally we came to a halt and GE099 climbed into a room through an entrance at waist height, GE095 quickly following. I looked through, and it was a room full of human bones scattered around. I didn't feel comfortable scrabbling around on human bones, and hesitated on the outside for a bit, before climbing through. GE099 lay out on the bones, while GE095 made ate some food. The stack in the middle of the room, are of course, more bones.
I gingerly stepped around the bones, and sat on a rock, glad of a rest. GE099 didn't see any problem with the human bones issue, and threw a couple at me. I was taken back by the weight of the bones, they were quite heavy and hurt!
As with everywhere, graffiti was present, the long passages were covered in hideous tags. Here one highlights a headhunter.
In other areas, it was far worse.
We entered a room with some better examples of graffiti, the others taking a rest, while the tourist proceeds to check out the graffiti.
Mushrooms were popular around here, particularly of the magic type. Sadly no real ones.
It wouldn't take a genius to guess that most of the graffiti is male sourced.
And yet more graffiti
A somewhat famous statue downhere.
More twists and turns, and we entered another room, with a lovely long Japanese inspired mural on one side.
On again, and the tiredness was really starting to kick in. I didn't want to show this to the others, but I was really looking forward to getting some sleep at this point. It had been 24hrs without sleep now, as it was around 7am. I grabbed a shot of some of the road signs, you can also see GE095's bare feet.
We had one more stop on the way, as GE099 insisted on showing me the famous castle sculpture that any writing about the Catas must have a photo of. So here it is.
And with that we went off to find out way out. As we emerged from the hole, I could see we weren't far from the end of the tunnel, and the morning light was bursting in. I could also see out of the other end of the tunnel, a long way off. This pic was taken closer to leaving the tunnel, I like the way the sun lights the sleepers.
GE099 and I changed back into our trainers, and packed away the waders. On the way back, I could now see the abandoned railway station, that this line used to serve.
It was then back to the car, and across to a spot to drop GE095 off, as she had a flight back to Australia in a few hours. How amazing is that, coming from the Catas straight onto a huge long plane flight. I went with GE099 back to his place, and sleeeeeeep!
It's hard to decide what to make of the Catas. I'd wanted to see and experience them, as so many people rave about them, forum owners like root and OT regularly go to see them. I'm not a huge quarry fan, in the same way I like other explore activities. They're holes in the rock, unless they've been adapted for other uses like in Wiltshire.
The constant bending down or bending of the neck I had to do didn't really help the appreciation. Nor did not bumping to anyone else really, as the Catas are known for their party atmosphere. I didn't really get knocked out by the rooms either, mostly full of eyeball destroying graffiti and tagging. I liked the history, the road signs in all there different designs, the shapes of the various passages, the columns next to the water section (see pic above), the sense of adventure. But I wouldn't rush back there, except with a bag of booze and good people. It wasn't until the 2nd trip, that I'd realise the full explore potential of the Catas. And that is why it's tucked away in my private blog. Basically, the tunnels can be quarried through to other things.
Merci beaucoup to GE099 the bone thrower, and GE095 for the insights and company.