Dark Paris has revealed some spooky places in time for Halloween. When people think of Paris, they think of the city of lights, cafe’s, bistros, and romantic walks along the River Seine. However, Paris has a macabre underbelly that is not for the feint-hearted, according to The Local.
The city’s Morgue was built in 1864, on the Ile de la Cité. Its spooky claim to fame was its “ability to freeze solid any corpses that arrived.” This was done to prevent the bodies from disfiguring. The bodies were then put on display behind glass walls so that families could make identification and claim the body. However, some of the bodies lay unclaimed for many years. It was not long before the morgue became an attraction for locals and tourists alike. It was closed when embalming was invented, shortly before the First World War. The morgue is not a place to have visited on Halloween perhaps, but according to Messynessychic, a place of entertainment where 19th century Parisians liked to “hang out.”
Even more bizarre is “the most beautiful corpse in history.” The body of a young girl was fished out of the River Seine near the Louvre during the winter of 1880. She appeared to be completely unmarked and looked at peace, with a faint smile on her face. She was taken to the city morgue where the morticians were so taken by her beauty they made a death mask of her face. She became a sensation and Parisians “called her the Mona Lisa of the Seine.” People thought she was so beautiful that she became the model for the first ever CPR dummy which is still in use today.” As a result, she has been dubbed “the most kissed girl in the world.” Perhaps a romantic walk along the river at Halloween is not such a good idea after all. According to the Daily Mail, because no one claimed her from the morgue, they hung the death mask “outside a shop door.” Parisians, artists, and writers made up stories about her, deciding she committed suicide because of an unrequited love.
Tucked away in the corner of Ile de la Cité, hides another spooky story. Rue des Chantres is renowned for being the “most haunted street in the city.” In the unassuming Hotel-Dieu, in the 1900s, children with consumption were kept in an annex to prevent the spread of the disease. All the children were drowned when the River Seine broke its banks and flooded the hotel. The children were “unable to escape their locked rooms.” Thus, it is said the spirits of the dead children walk the street and still “play in the little courtyard at the back of the hotel.” The screams and laughter of the children still “haunt the dark street.”
The iconic Eiffel Tower does not escape being a spooky place to visit on Halloween either. A young American fell desperately in love with a French girl who he had met in the Luxembourg Gardens in 1925. He proposed to her “on the first level of the Eiffel Tower.” As he pulled the ring from his pocket, the girl backed up against the edge and tripped, falling to her death. The story goes that the young girl can still be seen sitting on the edge of the railing, resplendent in 1920 clothes. Perhaps visitors need to be careful where they walk in Paris at the witching hour.
By Shirley Good