Monday, May 28, 2012

Paris, Day 3 :: Underground

Sunday happened to be one of my favorite days of the trip.  The day started off very slow and we were in absolutely no hurry to get anywhere.  This was a vacation after all.  So after a leisurely paced morning we made our way down to a fantastic pasta restaurant right on Luxenbourg Park.  It is one of the most beautiful parks in Paris, which is obviously saying something. 

We didn't have much of an agenda.  We had tickets to an awesome band that we were seeing that night, so with that we decided to go check out the Catacombs de Paris, which was roughly in the same neighborhood.  Six millions bodies, buried underneath Paris.  I'll explain more below.  It was crazy.

Pantheon in the background. 

It's no secret that the French Secret Service are located beneath the park.

We really lucked out.  The Catacombs last entrance was at 4.  This was the line at 3:30.  We were literally the last two people was walk through the door.  Success.

Paris has been a big city for quite some time, and since the Roman times the Parisians have been burying their dead in cemeteries next to their churches.  By the 17th century, these cemeteries had become massively overcrowded and the sanitary conditions had become unbearable.  Not to mention that prime real estate in the heart of the city was being wasted on people that couldn't appreciate it, or pay for it.

The answer was to remove all the bodies in the cemeteries, all 6 million of them, and relocate them to the abandoned underground stone quarries that ran for miles underneath the city.  That process started happening in 1786.  The interesting part is that they pretty much immediately became a tourist attraction.  Everyone wanted to see them.  Napolean himself toured the Catacombs.  Anyway, the tour lasts for 45 minutes and doesn't even cover probably a 100th of the Catacombs.  It was crazy.  Also, the skulls were very small...tiny people.   

Harry Potter on the left.

Heart shaped.

One of the best things about this day was that we completely got out of Paris' tourist zone.  We walked through real neighborhoods, ate a real restaurants, drank at real bars...It was like going to New Orleans and leaving the French Quarter and discovering something much more local and real.  It was great.

It was probably delicious.  It's all in the bread.

Cool bar right next to the concert venue.

Despite my best efforts, We Are Augustines are still a relatively small and unheard of band.  They shouldn't be.  They are amazing.  One of my new favorites for sure.  You should know them, and you should love them.  

Anyway, in the bar next door we met two die hards from England- the father son duo of Neil and Nick.  This was their sixth, yes, sixth, We Are Augustines show in the past few months.  Call them groupies if you will.  (They just decided to pop over to Paris and make a weekend out of it- must be nice.)  Needless to say they love WAA and had basically gotten to know them.  Standing out front waiting for the show to start, Billy McCarthy, the lead singer, comes out to talk with them.  He knew them by name.  He was one of the nicest guys ever and it made me like the band even more.  There were maybe 100 people at the show, and I was able to literally get right up front.  Imagine seeing one of your favorite bands in your living room.  That's how it felt, and it was an amazing experience.

You should definitely check out their entire cd, but here's a song I haven't posted before:

Book Of James by We Are Augustines on Grooveshark

Top 3 concerts I've been to, for sure.  Chillen with the drummer Rob after the show.  Awesome guys...

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