Paris has heaps of world famous sites to visit – the Champs of Ellis, the Jean-Claude Van Damme Cathedral, and the Bert Newton Tower, to name just a few. I visited all of those, of course, but I also decided to go to the shittest tourist attraction in the city – a tour of the sewers.
My adventure started off sensationally enough, as I trotted out of my one-star hotel in the 11th arrondissement (incidentally, this was right around the corner from the site of the tragic theatre terrorist attack last year) and headed towards the legendary Père Lachaise Cemetery, Best known as the final resting place of Jim Morrison, this boneyard offers so much more than that.
Sitting atop a small hill, the beautifully-landscaped cemetery features endless tombs across its 44 acres, and is a peaceful retreat from the busy city. It’s fucking awesome, and it’s easy to spend an entire morning (or more) simply wandering along the rows of graves, taking in the silence and the history..
Of course, I also pretended to be a zombie, which was maybe a bit disrespectful, but ultimately quite a lot of fun.
I spent so much time among the dead that it was pushing into the arvo by the time I trotted back into the streets, with the infamous Catacombs of Paris my ultimate destination. This series of underground tunnels hold the remains of around six million people, with skeletons stacked from floor to ceiling as far as the eye can see. You’d have to be mad as a meat-axe to not want to see it.
Unfortunately, between me and the Catacombs was a pretty Parisian sheila with a body wars have probably been fought over, and I became distracted and ended up drinking cheap wine by the side of a river with her. It was sweet and beautiful and, while I might’ve missed out on seeing bones, she certainly didn’t.
Fuck I’m romantic.
I woke up the next morning with a hangover and a pair of undies that weren’t mine, determined to make it to the Catacombs. After stopping a few times to chuck up in bushes, I finally made it, only to discover that I was there on the one day of the week it’s not open (Monday, in case you’re wondering). Having traded a musty old cavern for one that certainly wasn’t must or old, I wasn’t too upset, and instead ventured to another recommended tourist attraction, the Paris Sewers Museum – or, as I think it should be called, the Paris Sewers Poo-seum.
I’d seen it recommended on a few websites online and thought it would make a decent replacement for the Catacombs, but it turns out everyone who recommended it is a fucking idiot. It’s a boring, pointless waste of time, and visiting it rather than the Catacombs is akin to rooting Rebel Wilson rather than Jennifer Hawkins.
There’s not a lot to see; a few tunnels with some water trickling down them. Some old machinery. A handful of signs written in French. I was hoping for vast rivers of turds, and maybe even a display of all the weird things that have been found in the poo over the years, but there was none of that. I wandered around down there for half an hour, and then emerged into the bright Parisian sunlight, disappointed and wishing I had my five French spacebux back.
Paris is a great city with so much to see, but don’t waste your time checking out other peoples’ waste. Sit in a cafe and drink a beer, have a surprisingly good feed at one of the many Quick Burger restaurants, or just while away the hours swaggering through parks and alleyways. But leave the sewers alone, they’re shit.
Oh, and afterwards I saw Owen Wilson riding around on a pushbike. He smiled at me as he rode away into traffic. Ships passing in the night and all that. Call me, Owen…