The Paris Catacombs are a story of multigenerational effects: the mining of limestone for Paris’s characteristic buildings, the collapses of buildings into the voids the mining created, the efforts to reinforce the cavities, and ultimately the decades-long project to transfer the remains of six million Parisians to the space. At this point, it has earned the name “Empire of the Dead”.
So many people have a connection to Notre Dame, and in the hours after the fire was announced, it seemed like everyone had their personal Notre Dame picture to show. The number of visitors explains the ubiquity: 30,000 people per day, 13,000,000 per year. That explains why the crowds in this picture, even on a rainy night in late November.
From a catacombs’ portal to one with a bit more life: the back side of this clock face at the Musée d’Orsay is apparently (from the cell phone screen in the foreground) the perfect location for a social media moment. In the window, the view across the river to the classiest parts of Paris provides the right counterpoint.
This is a big week for images of annular objects and I want to make my contribution from a less cutting-edge end of the spectrum: looking up a shaft from inside the Paris Catacombs. The rainy day at the other end of this portal means umbrellas obscure the sky.
Of the people standing in the dusky light and the long line to enter Notre Dame, it was actually those at the end of the line who were luckiest: they were still outside a few moments later when the lights illuminating the outside of the cathedral activated.