Friends, not only Halloween was not too long ago but as the days in France get colder, skies are turning grey, the temperature drops, the days get shorter…everything in the air calls for mystery and legends.
Here is a post to select for you some of Paris’ best spooky experiences, relatively kids-friendly, and make the Halloween chills last a little longer.
The Phantom of the Opera
Many of us are familiar with this utterly romantic fiction written by Gaston Leroux in 1910 and celebrated many times in movies, on stage and recently as a Broadway musical.
The Phantom of the Opera takes place in the beautiful, historical Palais Garnier which is France’s National Opera House. This year, as a premiere, the Palace has been running what every fan would have ever dreamt of: a live escape game, within the walls of the Palais Garnier itself, to solve the mysteries of the Phantom and discover the building in all its little secrets and mysteries!
The escape game is available in French with English supporting materials and runs every afternoon in the Opera….Make sure you wear the proper dress code, that is…. black, and get ready for an incredible adventure! Did you know? The Phantom still has its own lodge at the Opera. Will you find it?
Medieval maledictions on place Dauphine
This little tiny square only a few meters away from Notre-Dame is one of Paris’ best kept secrets. Place Dauphine is quiet and pretty, in sharp contrast to the busy and touristy Notre-Dame next door: it is a perfect place where locals come for a coffee, a lunch or to play on the square.
But Place Dauphine is also where one of the most mysterious French History events took place and some of you may still feel that mystery vibe when walking along the trees of the square. Here in the Middle Ages, the last head of the mysterious Temple Order, Jacques de Molay, was condemned by the King of France and burnt alive in 1314. The Temple Order was a medieval congregation of Christian soldiers and priests whose mission was to protect and defend the Christian Holy Places in the Middle East and in particular around Jerusalem. After losing several key battles at the end of the 13th Century, the Temple Order stopped receiving support from the French King, and eventually from the Pope himself.
Shortly before dying, the legend says that Jacques de Molay pronounced a malediction against the Kings of France to come. And strangely after that, the monarchy was very much weakened by a hundred-year long war against England and the loss of the heir princes. Some would say the malediction ran until the end of French Monarchy when Louis the XVI was executed by the revolutionaries in 1791.
Joan of Arc during the One Hundred Year War.
The Catacombs don’t need much introduction as one of Paris most famous spooky places! The reason we mention it, is that, due to a recent affluence of visitors, some of the Catacombs accesses will be renovated in 2019…. So now is a good time to go before the mess of the works. Besides, the underground temperature being constant at 14°C, it’s actually a pretty good visit for winter time!
The Catacombs are the remains of an ancient cemetery, which at the end of the 18th Century had become “overcrowded” and with pretty bad hygiene conditions. It was therefore decided to close it, but without getting rid of the bones and remains. Therefore, a special underground place was prepared, where all the bones would be stocked in an aesthetic and clean fashion. With 1,5 km of underground galleries through human bones, heads and remains of millions of Parisians, the Catacombs visit is no place for the faint hearted or anyone claustrophobic! But it is a travel through time and a tribute to the souls who made the City vibrant and alive centuries ago.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Another gloomy and spooky destination, Pere Lachaise is a very ambiguous place. While some will find it creepy to walk around Paris’ biggest cemetery (so crowded that it’s now nearly impossible to get a spot there unless being a celebrity…), other people will also find it actually quite pleasant.
The Cemetery is a huge and green park, very relaxing for sure. And entertaining too! It is pretty interesting and fun to actually chaise after your favorite historical figures’ burials. The Cemetery requires a map to visit and is home to several guided tours from famous historical people’s burials to more aesthetic artworks on the tombs. Last but not least, don’t wander there too long as it is said that some strange fans of Jim Morrison or of Allan Kardec, the founder of Spiritism, still come when night falls to place candles and tributes on the graves.
So here were some good ideas for you to sustain the Halloween spooky vibe in Paris if you are visiting in November ! And more mysteries and historical anecdotes will come in the future posts….