5 of the most haunted places in Paris
For millions and millions of tourists, Paris is known for the eiffel tower, the corner street cafés and the romantic settings. But for a small portion of visitors, Paris is a breeding ground for myths, legends and hauntings. History, dead and gone, sprawls back centuries from the City of Lights that we know today. Well… dead, certainly… but gone? We are not so sure. Turn out the lights, because the City of Lights is soon going to be transformed into the City of Frights. Good one, huh?
The Paris Opera House
The Paris Opera House in the morning light – Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
The Paris Opera House is perhaps the most famous opera house in all the world. It hosts some of the most popular operas and ballets ever to hit the stage. Every year, an innumerable amount of tourists and locals alike flock to catch a glimpse of the beautiful decor and radiant wealth. What they do not know, however, is that underneath this magnificent piece of architecture lies the swampy home of the dead.
The haunting of the opera house was made famous by the by French writer Gaston Leroux. His book recounts the story of a ghost who dwells deep beneath the opera in a subterranean lake, and, led by love, kidnaps a young singer. Gaston Leroux, however, claims that his book is more than just a story.
Photo of the original construction in 1862
Let us start with the facts. Many people will be surprised to find out that there truly is a hidden, underground lake beneath the Paris Opera House. Upon original construction, architects discovered that it was nearly impossible to drain the water from the swampy land, and so, with little other choice, they decided to build around it. Today, winding in and out of the underground tunnels is a vast, clear lake.
Gaston Leroux’s story is based upon a real life character who used to live in France. Born with a horrible disfiguration on his face, he was forced to wear a white mask when in public. After suffering from a dramatic heart break at the hand of a young soprano who used to sing at the Paris Opera, he locked himself in an underground chamber – just below the opera house – and was later found dead.
One of the chandeliers from the Paris Opera house – One of which was reported to have mysteriously fallen during a performance
Gaston Leroux is not the only person who has claimed to see spooky things while in the opera. Many other performers and spectators have claimed to witness things that do not quite fit with reality. Some people have said that they hear ghastly whispers coming from the balcony where the tortured man used to sit. Others have said that they have seen a slow moving, pale, crippled figure meandering about the opera. Enjoy the show!
Père Lachaise Cemetery
An open tomb in the cemetery – Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
The cemetery of Père Lachaise is one of the worlds most well known cemeteries. It contains the graves of notable people such as Chopin, Jim Morrison, Edif Piaf, Henry Salvador, and many others who have had the good fortune to be buried among such interesting and creative corpses.
As well as being the most famous, it is also renowned for its hauntings. It is certainly one of the most notoriously haunted cemeteries in Europe, if not the world. There have been stories upon stories of people seeing spirits wander through the rows of elaborate graves.
Marcel Proust, another famous resident of Paris’s enormous cemetery, is sometimes said to be seen searching for his lover’s grave. Jim Morrison (perhaps to marvel at the graffiti and other offerings left by his fans) has been known to pop up from his resting place below. Do not ask for an autograph, though. He gets grumpy.
The Gardens of Versailles
Painting of “Parterre du Nord” by Étienne Allegrain
The gardens of Versailles, with all their beautiful trimmed lawns and royal decor, have none-the-less created a name for themselves as one of the most haunted areas in Paris. There is certainly no lack to the beauty of these gardens, but when the sun begins to fade and the fog starts rolling in, a very different atmosphere creeps up from the past.
The most well known story comes from two women who, in the summer of 1901, were taking a stroll through the outskirts of the gardens where Marie Antoinette used to spend her time. The women claim that while they were walking they entered a different time.
Birds eye view of the Garden of Versailles – Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
They noticed that they were walking past people who appeared to be dressed in 18th century attire. At first they were not bothered, but then, as the evening wore on, they started to expect that they had stumbled into to something they did not belong to. Finally, nearing the end of their walk, they claim to have seen the ghost of Marie Antoinette herself: the famous queen who had been beheaded in 1792.
Since then, there have been many other reports of strange occurrences and sighting on the weaving pathways of the garden of Versailles.
The island of France – Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
The Mont Saint-Michel is not actually in Paris. It lies on the frontier of Normandy and Brittany, and is about four hours outside of Paris. Ghosts aside, it is one of the most incredible spots in France and is more than worth a day trip.
Now for the ghosts. There have been more reported ghost sighting at the Mont Saint-Michel than any other spot in France. People have claimed to have seen the figures of the ancient monks that used to roam the buildings.
The Mont Saint-Michel was placed under siege many times throughout the history of France. The countless deaths that have taken place within and outside the island’s walls are anything but forgotten. They still linger, wandering up and down the cobblestone steps of the Mont Saint-Michel.
The catacombs of Paris
The tunnels of underground Paris – Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
If there is any place that is truly haunted in Paris, the underground catacombs have to be it. With over 200 km of interwoven tunnels, the catacombs of Paris hold too many secrets to count. Along with these secrets, the catacombs contain the bones of six million former Parisians.
Strangely enough, this is not where the stories of hauntings come from. There are many secret entrances into the underground catacombs that adventures have been exploring since the very beginning. One of these adventurers, a man named Philibert Aspairt, wandered into these tunnels only to find that he had forgotten the way out. He died down there, and stayed there for nearly 11 years before being discovered.
Now, to the small communities of catacombs explorers, Philibert Aspairt acts as their patron saint. It is said that some people hear him calling through the musty tunnels, still trying to find his way out. If you are lost in the tunnels do not follow him. Even after hundreds of years he still has not found the right way.