If you haven’t heard of the catacombs in Paris, they’re creepy underground passageways containing the bones of millions of people. I can categorically say I would never want to get lost in one.
But that was the scenario that two teenage boys, aged 16 and 17, found themselves in. It’s understood that three days ago, the boys entered the tunnels and became lost. The catacombs in Paris extend for about 150 miles (241 kilometres) but only a small section is open to the public.
It’s against the law to go into the non-public section but there are apparently secret entrances dotted around the city where you can gain access.
According to the Guardian, rescue dogs found the two teens, who were suffering from hypothermia. Temperatures usually hover around the 15-degree Celsius mark, so you wouldn’t want to get stuck in there without a jumper.
If you’re wondering why the hell there are millions of bones housed underground in often beautifully arranged pieces, the catacombs were designed to address an overcrowding cemetery problem in the 1700s.
The rescue is pretty impressive considering how massive the catacombs extend underneath Paris. But there is a group of explorers, called Cataphiles, who love to tour the Mines of Paris, a series of tunnels underneath Paris.
While the catacombs were dug to store millions of bones, the mines were built to harvest limestone that was used to construct Parisian buildings.
These adventure lovers enjoy walking through the often pitch-black maze. Some like to explore the seemingly endless tunnels, others camp out to escape the busy street-life above ground, while others host parties down there.
Mine explorer Loic Antoine-Gambeaud told CNN: «I think it’s in the collective imagination. Everybody knows that there is something below Paris, that something goes on that’s mysterious. But I don’t think many people have even an idea of what the underground is like.
«It’s like an alternate reality. You don’t have the same sort of social interaction with people as you do above. You are free to invent yourself again, to be somebody else.»
Because the vast majority of the tunnels are off limits to the public, there is a special wing of police who spend their time trying to find intruders. Anyone caught roaming the maze will face a €60 fine.