Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Secrets of Underground Paris

In 2004 Paris police discovered a movie theater / restaurant in a large, previously unknown cavern beneath that city's elite and wealthy 16th Arrondissement, near the Trocadero.

Over 170 miles of tunnels, caves, and catacombs snake out like roots beneath the ancient city and it's the police's job to patrol this labyrinth.

At the close of summer, one squad entered a drain next to the Trocadero and discovered a tarp marked "Building Site, No Access" concealing a tunnel. At its mouth, a closed-circuit TV camera was set upon a desk to record the presence of any intruders. Moving beyond that, the squad triggered a remote mechanism that loudly played an audio recording of angrily barking dogs.

Obviously, someone was going to great lengths to dissuade the average curious visitor. But the Paris Police were undaunted and ventured further in.

Following the tunnel some ways, the squad found themselves suddenly with in a large cavity that had been further carved out to resemble an amphitheater. The seating was arranged to face a large movie screen with projection equipment and video cassettes of films ranging from 50s noir to recent blockbusters.

Above their heads, scrawled in the soft stone, were strange symbols that included Swastikas, Celtic Crosses, and Stars of David.

Next door, in a smaller chamber, were tables, chairs, liquors and a pressure cooker that had been used to make couscous.

Moreover, the whole operation was powered by a professionally installed power. There were also three phone lines.

Baffled by the strange find, the unit retreated to inform their superiors. Three days of bureaucracy
passed before Police could once again venture down to the secret chamber.

To their shock, the phone lines, power cables, and equipment was all gone. The only thing left was a note on the floor that read: Do not try to find us.

It isn't clear who was responsible for the occupation of this lost cavern. It is unlawful--except in certain spots--to enter into the Paris Catacombs, but this doesn't stop everyone. Many urban explorers venture nightly into the warren of tunnels. One such group, known as the Perforating Mexicans, claimed the underground cinema was theirs. A photographer named Patrick Alk, who published a photo essay on the tunnels, claims it was another group altogether. He further adds, that there are many other areas of the underground still undiscovered by the public at large.

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