The Catacombs Of Paris: Are They Haunted?

Down to the Underground

The Catacombs of Paris were created in the late 18th century as an answer to the problem of the city’s overflowing cemeteries, particularly that of the Holy Innocents’ Cemetery, located in central Paris. In 1786, the bodies of those in that cemetery were exhumed and relocated to what are now known as the Catacombs.

Walls lined with bones and skulls, winding macabre corridors, and sepulchers cast in shadow. A trip through the Catacombs of Paris is a surreal and sobering journey. But while the decor alone may be enough to make your spine chill, many visitors have claimed to experience paranormal activity there, as well.

Entrance Into The Paris Catacombs
Image: Flickr/NatalieMaynor via CC by 2.0

Something perhaps worth mentioning is that limestone is said to have certain paranormal properties, including the ability to store and release psychic energy. While this, of course, can’t be proven in a scientific way, if the Catacombs are truly haunted, it’s an interesting bit of paranormal folklore to keep in mind. That’s because much of the Catacombs of Paris were formerly Lutitian limestone mines. Paris itself rests upon 200 miles of these tunnels, though visitors won’t be seeing most of them. If they’re lucky.

The Lost Man Footage

One of the most ominous stories about the Catacombs Of Paris involves old video camera footage of a man who seemingly got lost, never to be found again. The man’s camera and tape containing the footage were recovered within the tunnels, and later investigated.

The footage, which reportedly dates back to the 1990s, shows a first-person POV of a man navigating the Catacombs with a flashlight, at first slowly and later in a panic. At the end of the video, the man witnesses something and drops the camcorder, running off into the darkness and becoming an unsolved mystery to this day. The camera continues to record until (presumably) the battery runs out.

Later, filmmaker Francis Freedland and some urban explorers set out to possibly locate the man, however they never did. Their attempt (and the footage) was featured as a special documentary on ABC Family years ago.

Philibert Aspairt

In November of 1793, a doorman of the Val-de-Grace hospital named Philibert Aspairt entered the winding labyrinth using a staircase in the hospital’s courtyard. While you may find it odd that there would be a stairway to the macabre subterranean Parisian tunnels there, remember – 200 miles worth beneath Paris. Aspairt soon got lost, never to be seen alive again. Many believe his light went out, leaving him in total darkness and confused.

It wouldn’t be until 1804 that his body was discovered, his hospital key still on his belt, and the only way they determined who he was. He would be buried where he was found. However, according to modern folklore, his spirit may still linger – the ghost of Philibert Aspairt is said appear every November 3, the day he went missing.

While these are just a couple small tales that you might tell around a campfire, there are other anecdotes online of visitors to the Catacombs who have witnessed shadowy figures and other paranormal activity, though they’re usually mentioned in passing and without any concrete details. Feelings of unease and dread, strange lights, faint voices – the sounds of the past echoing through the subterranean chambers.

YouTuber and explorer AmysCrypt and her team performed a paranormal investigation of the Catacombs, uploaded on May 8, 2019, during which they captured what they describe as “strange audio” in the form of a “sinister laugh.” The audio can be heard around 37:27. Later, they also capture other strange noises.

Paranormal or not, the video is also a decent glimpse at what it’s like to navigate the tunnels in general.

While there is no definitive proof that any hauntings have occurred, the aura of death no doubt permeates the Catacombs of Paris, allowing them to become the perfect setting for such unusual stories of supernatural phenomena.

Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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