It’s July. I’m in my family’s place. A Parisian among Parisians. I enjoy summer around the Seine river. One day, I get an email from a friend. In short, it is written this: Want to join our group to listen of the darkest stories about Paris? He did not wait long for an answer. Around a week later, we gather in front of a pub to walk among the ghosts. The guide is American and the tour is in English. We are about a dozen French, about as many Americans, some Britts and two Swedes. All are ready and eager to hear scary stories. I hope you do too it.
The first story begins with “la place de l’Hotel de Ville “(City Hall Square) and “la place de la Concorde.” During the French Revolution many people beheaded at these two places and it was so bloody that it was almost impossible to walk there. The shoes stuck simply on the blood-soaked soil. Handling the corpses became soon a problem due to the lack of space. A well-known example is “Le Cimetière des Innocents “(Cemetery of innocents) where corpses were accumulated. Today has been replaced by “La fontaine des Innoncents “(The Fountain of innocents). The amount of corpses was so large that they were finally moved to the catacombs to avoid contamination. Today this location is mostly peaceful but if you ever pass by there, do not forget that you are in a cemetery.
Close to this old cemetery disappeared twenty boys in the Middle Age. Their disappereance remained a mystery for a long time. But one day people found evidences of what had happened…and it was not beautiful. It seems that a Polish princess murdered them. This princess believed in black magic and she was told that she could be healed from her liver disease if she bathed into the blood of children. The poor boys were emptied until their last blood drop to fill up her bathtub. Oddly, it did not help to survive the disease…Let’s leave now we leave the blood to vampires and talk instead about meat … Paris also has a long history of cannibalism.
Under the 18th century, one could instead to go to the zoo, go to the square and watch the cannibals from exotic countries. Some French were curious about human flesh and but few dared tasting. Cannibalism is, even in our time, much more common in Paris than in the other major cities in the world. The reason remains a mystery. A well-known case from 1981 involved two exchange students from Japan and Holland. The Japanese guy was in love with the Dutch girl and could not stand her rejection when he tried to kiss her. He killed her and put the corpse in the fridge. It took him a year to eat up the whole body. Is Paris the city of love? It might be but it depends on the kind of love we are talking about.
To conclude with a more pleasant story, we go back a little further in time. We stop once more in the Middle Age, more specifically, the year 1330. It was at that time that the greatest alchemist of all time, Nicolas Flamel was born. He was apparentlynot a legend, as some people may at first sight think. He was very rich and had a lot of apartments. There is even a street in Paris, which is named after him. His life has always been a myth. According to legend, he was able to produce gold using the “philosopher’s stone”. Moreover, it is said “the Philosopher’s Stone” give eternal life. He “died” in public in 1418, However his body disappeared from the grave fairly soon after his death. Through the ages many people throughout Europe could testify that Nicolas Flamel was still alive. The last witness, who was not Harry Potter, saw Mr. Flamel wandering on his street in 1986. Is he still alive? Pay attention, Nicolas lives perhaps in your neighborhood.
After all, it is almost impossible to summarize all the dark stories that surround Paris but now you know at least that one can not rely on students or princesses and that the Highlander is not is the only immortal man. After the tour has been your heads were full with potential nightmares. We saw Paris from another percepective. Paris is simply not just the city of love but also an enigmatic city that changes through ages.