Many tourists travel to Paris to sip espresso at a sidewalk café or take a romantic stroll along the Seine. What these unwitting travelers might not realize is that beyond Paris’ beautiful façade are some of the strangest, most haunted sites in all of Europe, many of which are also some of the city’s most visited attractions. If you want to add a little spice to an otherwise commonplace tour of this amazing city, look beyond the traditional tourist hotspots and visit some of Paris’ most haunted places.
The Paris Catacombs
The ritual of placing a deceased body in a casket and burying it several feet under the ground is centuries-old. It was the burial plan of choice for Parisian citizens, as well. Unfortunately, a population explosion during the 17th and 18th centuries left little room for the city’s living dwellers, let alone the recently deceased. In an unparalleled feat of macabre wisdom, city planners and engineers quietly disinterred millions of long-dead citizens and moved their remains to a series of tunnels underneath the city. The Paris Catacombs are toured by millions each year, and not surprisingly, are considered to be among the top most haunted areas in the city. There are countless reports of ghostly interactions, many of which were captured in photographs now available to the public on the Internet.
Chances are as you wander the streets of Paris, necessity will bring you to the Pont Marie, which connects the Seine’s Right and Left banks. There’s even a tradition amongst tourists of kissing beneath the bridge, which began after several excursion boats in Paris dubbed it “lover’s bridge.” There is something of a bizarre tale associated with this connecting structure — although it’s not exactly romantic. Legend has it that during World War II, a French wife of a man in the Resistance movement began cavorting with a Nazi officer to gain information. After her visits with the Nazi officer, she would meet her husband on the Pont Marie to share what she’d learned. One night the woman was waiting for her husband on the bridge, as she did every night. For whatever reason he never showed, and she died from the apparent combination of cold weather and a broken heart. It’s said she can still be seen wandering the bridge at night weeping for her husband.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Located on the Boulevard de Menilmontant and built by Napoleon I in 1804, the Pere Lachaise Cemetery is the largest funerary ground in the city of Paris. Initial interest in the cemetery was poor mostly because of its location and lack of famous deceased residents. In a stroke of marketing genius, the cemetery’s owners arranged to have the remains of several famous former citizens, including the playwright Moliere, transferred to the grounds. Business picked up and eventually Pere Lachaise became the place to be buried for the Parisian elite. Many of the cemetery’s most famous residents are said to walk along the rows at night, including musician and poet Jim Morrison and author Adolphe Thiers.
The Eiffel Tower
It might seem unbelievable, but one of the most haunted places in Paris is also the most visited and photographed landmark in France: the Eiffel Tower. Among the more famous ghosts said to wander the structure is that of a young woman who was unwilling to accept the advances of an unpleasant young suitor. Legend has it he pursued her up the stairs of the tower and in a fit of rage, pushed her off after being refused for the last time. Many visitors swear you can still hear the girl screaming as they ascend the tower. If you’re fortunate enough to enjoy this symbol of Paris, keep in mind its macabre history and don’t be surprised when you feel an unexplained gust of wind across your neck or hear the ghostly screams of a deceased young woman.
From the catacombs beneath its streets to the final resting place of many famous Parisian citizens; there are a number of strange, bizarre and haunted destinations to tour in and around Paris. Even if your intentions for visiting the City of Lights are ghostly in nature, don’t forget to check out the city’s amazing bistros and museums.