Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#SOL15 Day 25: Opulence and Death--Versailles & Catacombs

15, Catacombs, Romanticism
Once again I'm blogging for the SOL Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Today is Day 25 of 31. 

Extremes and binaries. These two words embody my thoughts about today's visits to the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Catacombs.  

I've long been fascinated by the Treaty of Versailles and the concessions France demanded and received as WWI ended. Today, however, focused on Versailles as the seat of France's government beginning w/ Louis XIV. His decision to relocate the center of government strikes me as similar to Czar Nicholas retreat to his summer palace, where he, as well as Louis XVI lived in opulence. 

How often history repeats itself. 

If the Palace of Versailles represents ostentatiousness, the Paris Catacombs is more reverent and humble in tone. It's not eerie. The catacombs suggest reverence for life, a spirituality of respect that grew out of the Romantic movement. Throughout the catacombs are placards of poetry. Since I dong speak French, I'll get them translated later. 

Over six million bodies found their final resting place in the Paris Catacombs: 

The Catacombs are over a mile long and took over 20 years to relocate the bodies from graveyards to the Catacombs. Initially the bones were just stacked, reflecting the neoclassic belief that the spirit found another resting ace after death. Only after the Romantic movement w/ its emphasis on man's relationship to nature were the bodies treated in a more respectful manner. 


  1. It's breathtaking to see the pictures of palace opulence followed by the catacombs. Both seem such extremes. 6 million people buried in the Catacombs? Those stacks of bones - sculptures of bones - are so surreal. Incredible photos. I suspect, an emotional day!

  2. I will be going to Paris this June (less than a week after the last day of school! I was considering whether or not I should go to the Catacombs since I already visited the Catacombs in Rome, but thanks to your pictures I think I will just need to make a visit!

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/2015/03/25/enjoying-a-mid-week-no-work-day-sol25/