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Live to Die

September 29th, 2009

Wednesday the 20th was another bright and sunny day in Paris.  Our host had taken the day off and would be joining us in our touristy exploits.  Originally she wanted to spend the time looking for a new apartment (her lease was coming up soon), but she had unexpectedly gotten that taken care of already.  So what should we do with the gorgeous weather?  Float down the river?  Meander about another museum?  Get lost in a maze like section of town?  Nah.  Let’s venture deep underneath the city and wander about some of the 186 miles of the Catacombs.

During the late 18th century all of the cemeteries in Paris were condemned.  The current inhabitants were al moved to the depleted quarries under the city.  Any new guests are redirected to the surrounding suburbs.  People line up to be allowed down for a walk of the 2 miles that are open to the public (for a small fee).  Only 200 people are allowed in at any given time, so the line gets rather long.  During the hour and a half while waiting for our turn we went through several baguettes and croissants from the nearby bakeries. 

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Once down the stairs, the path to the bones was as pleasant and inviting as any dimly-lit narrow stone passage could be.  Which was to say before I saw a single bone, I was already put into a Halloween kinda mood.  When we finally came across the bones we were shocked by several things.  They were densely stacked about 4 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide with skulls artfully positioned.  I couldn’t even begin to guess how many people were represented by each section.  And the tunnels just kept going.  We were allowed to walk through a little over a mile of the ossuary.  Throughout the entire length of that, the walls were just crammed with bones.  And that was barely half of a percent of the entire place.  Some of the literature stated that the catacombs holds remains of about six million people.  An exact figure is not known. 

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After all of that death we decided to have a quick lunch and head over somewhere a bit less spooky.  So we went to Père Lachaise.  Among others, this great cemetery houses the remains of Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison.  We spent about 4 hours wandering around the cemetery with our $5 map (currency converted for simplicity – I can’t find the Euro button on my keyboard).  A few things of interest to note:  Morrison’s grave is discreet, but fenced off and has its own armed guard.  Wilde’s grave is smothered in lipstick stained kisses and no one really knows why.  At least I don’t.  That crazy gal over at Polish Outlander spent a similar day in the cemetery.  You may find her insights insightful.  I know I did.

After a day of death and more death, the three of us were famished so we head back to Chez Gladines for the second time.  We really liked the food here.  This time around The Girl got the duck confit and loved it.  I decided to be a bit more bold and went with Escargot Cassolet Basque as an appetizer and an order of Andouillette poelee for my meal.  The escargot was served in a creamy tomato soup that was absolutely delicious.  I just kept dunking my bread in there. 

And then there was the andouillette.  The waiter described this item as “a sausage, but with the guts.”  This item would definately allow me to cross eating offal of of my French to do list, and it sounded pretty good.  I was excited.  It was the type of excited that wanes with each bite.  My first bite was good, while my second reminded me vaguely of pig intestine.  By the time I was halfway, I knew I was done.  As with most things of this variety, it was both the taste and the texture.  Whenever I cut into the sausage the guts would fall out.  They were not ground up like a traditional sausage, rather they were just crammed in there.  It reminded me of the classic peanut brittle/snake practical joke.  When I woke up the next morning, I could swear I could still taste intestine.

Happy birthday to me!

Author: Josh Categories: Story Tags: , ,
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