Paris: Macarons and Macabre All in One Morning

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I don’t suppose it’s entirely wrong to swing by McDonald’s Paris for some coffee and macarons before heading into the catacombs on a hot summer day. Otherwise, why would the two have been placed so close together? Should eating and death make me a bit uncomfortable when combined?

The Paris Catacombs are the empire of the dead.  Photo credit: L. Tripoli

The Paris Catacombs are the empire of the dead.
Photo credit: L. Tripoli

As with so many other things French, Parisians seem calm about that phase of life we refer to as “passing away.” People might “move on,” but their bodies remain, and Paris in 1785 was too crowded to support graveyards. Practicality—and commerce—ruled. Into tunnels used for quarrying the populations of cemeteries went. This was long before McDonald’s starting hawking coffee, macarons, and burgers in one place.

Skulls and bones are stacked creatively in the Parisian Catacombs. Photo credit: V. Laino

Skulls and bones are stacked creatively in the Parisian Catacombs.
Photo credit: V. Laino

Properly caffeinated and sugared, I descended, with the Youthful Adventurer and the Senior Adventurer, into the catacombs. The burial people got a bit creative with the bones they’d unearthed.

I emerged into the sunshine, having enjoyed the bone art of generations past and appreciating the willingness of Parisian leaders to make their city more sustainable by making a practical choice about a very emotional issue.

—Lori Tripoli

A cross made of skulls in the Catacombs in Paris. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

A cross made of skulls in the Catacombs in Paris.
Photo credit: L. Tripoli

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