Dark and quirky places in Paris

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If you live in Paris, or are on a long visit and have a taste for the dark and quirky side of the city, there is plenty to fulfill your hunger. It is the city known (in previous times) for the use of the guillotine, in fact not far from where I used to live in the fifth district, there was a bar that included a guillotine as part of its decoration. It might seem a rather bizarre form of marketing (bars have to stand out in competition to the many other bars). I’d imagined a guillotine was rather a bulky apparatus, but no…this guillotine was sleek and I suppose very efficient…
Not very far from the bar with the guillotine (it has since been removed, perhaps it made too many punters jumpy, fearful what happen to them if they didn’t pay up at the end of the evening…) is the place where Marie Antoinette was kept before being shunted off to meet the fore-mentioned method of dispatch, the guillotine. The place named La Conciergerie (an infamous place in the reign of terror) were meager to say the least.
Another place I have visited are the Paris catacombs, a place where many skulls and other bones are kept…to form the world’s largest grave…the so called “empire of the dead”. I went there on a “night time” illegal tour. I would not do this again, it is a fascinating place, now smothered in graffiti. If you happen to choose an illegal trip down the catacombs, firstly go with some experts, who have a map and know their way round…secondly if you are spotted by the police, you are liable to a fine.
If you want an above ground safer destination, you could go to the Musée des Arts Forains. The problem is this a private museum…that is not normally open to the public. I was fortunate enough to go last Christmas, when the museum was opened for a short time to the public. It is a museum, which was opened as a labor of love by a man called by Jean Paul Favand. If you visit this museum you feel like you are being transported back in time…into the world of fairgrounds, with old merry-go-rounds. There are many quirky antiques, gathered together by the proprietor, an antiques dealer and actor…who seems to have had an eye for the theatrical…It is like being brought into the a Tim Burton type microcosm. You would need to check the museums website to see if it is possible to visit. It seems to be used as the unusual setting for lavish parties and events. On the day I went, there were musicians, performers and circus acts including the incredible Zaza.
One evening I was the visitor to another rather exclusive and unusual museum in Paris, the Dracula museum. Stuck away in an unlikely setting, you have to walk through rather gloomy surrounding before you reach it. The museum has a garden and among other artifacts of significance to the proprietors , are two graves, ( unoccupied I presume). Contrary to the norm, some of the artefacts have not been tended with loving care and the weather in some cases had done its worst, but no matter. Spread about the garden are objects from previous soirees, goblets left unattended. It was like somebody has chosen to dedicate they garden to the fearful figure of Dracula.
If you have a lust for the darker aspects of life Paris will more than satisfy your needs, it is steeped in history, some it might choose to cover up.


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