FILE – In this Sept.15, 2004 file photo, a man is shadowed in the catacombs, in Paris. The City of Light harbors a vast network of subterranean tunnels that once gave refuge to bandits, smugglers and saints and cradles the remains of some 6 million Parisians. The Catacombs form a dark, 200-mile (322 kilometer) underground labyrinth beneath the City of Light. (AP Photo/Michel Euler,file)
By THOMAS ADAMSON
PARIS (AP) — This Halloween, two brave souls will get the dubious honor of waking up among 6 million dead bodies in Paris’ creepy Catacombs.
Brazilian Pedro Arruda, 27, said he wasn’t sure if he was lucky or unlucky when he found out he had won a contest sponsored by home-sharing company Airbnb to spend the night 20 meters (65 feet) underground.
Visitors to Paris can tour the dark, 200-mile (322 kilometer) underground labyrinth (though the website warns the tour is unsuitable for “people with heart or respiratory problems, those of a nervous disposition and young children”) but they don’t generally get to stay the night.
Arruda, who is taking his 64-year-old mother for company, doesn’t fear the millions of dead roommates. The words “Halt, this is the realm of Death” loom above the entrance, as narrow passages and dark mazes open up into Gothic arrangements of stacked bones. Bodies were transferred there starting in the late 1700s after Paris’ public graveyards were closed due to health fears.
“I’d be much more scared if they were alive,” he said.
The prize includes a double bed in a candle-lit stone chamber and dinner, as well as a violin concert and a storyteller to get them in the Halloween spirit. Airbnb struck a deal with Paris City Hall to donate 300,000 euros ($331,000) in exchange for using the Catacombs for the night.
Arruda describes himself as a “history nerd” and said he relishes the idea of waking up in a site that houses the remains of great men like writers Francois Rabelais and Jean de la Fontaine as well as the feared revolutionary Georges Danton, who was guillotined.
The one drawback to sleeping in a chamber equipped for the dead? There is no toilet.
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