"It is cool and dark in this tomb."

Travel Beneath the streets of Paris is a maze of catacombs and caves which have helped shape the history of the city. We have similar tunnels in Liverpool, but unlike the Williamson Tunnels (for example) a culture of non-professional excavation has developed around this subterranean network of inspectors and self-styled Cataphiles:
"Philippe Charlier sets his plastic shopping bag on a battered chair and rubs his hands. It is cool and dark in this tomb. Water droplets gleam on the ceiling, and the air smells of mold and damp earth. The dead surround us, stacked like cordwood, walls of eye sockets and the scrolled ends of femurs. Charlier reaches into the bag, which is full of bones he'll borrow, and slips out a skull the color of parchment. Chips of bone and dirt tumble out. "I love the patina—not all white and clean," he says.

Six stories above us, in the caf├ęs of Montparnasse, waiters are brushing off tables, setting out chalkboard menus. It is nearly lunchtime.
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