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It was strange, to say the least when I found myself way down in the crypt.

 

Eerie too.

 

I was practically the only person in the vast subterranean chamber of the Panthéon in Paris that day for some reason.

 

All alone visiting the final resting place for many famous French poets, writers and scientists, and now an entertainer. 

 

Outside the Paris Panthéon with pictures of the newly inducted Josephine Baker.

 

 

I had wanted to visit the mausoleum ever since I had attended the induction of American black singer and actress Josephine Baker into the French Panthéon,  a ceremony that took place at the end of November last year.

 

The Panthéon was originally a church, and sometimes still is, built in the mid-1700s as a domed monument in Paris’ Latin Quarter.

 

It is impressively imposing from the outside but inside the architecture swallows you up with its austere grandeur.

 

 

Inside the Paris Pantheon with its high dome

 

 

BUT then I took the walk down the narrow circular staircase in the far left corner of the building.

 

I wended my way around and around descending further, the temperature seemingly dropping a degree with every step.

 

 

All by myself heading down into the Crypt

 

The narrow staircase into the Crypt

 

To reveal an elaborate labyrinth of long hallways and small rooms.

 

The first thing I encountered was the statue and tomb of the illustrious French writer and philosopher, Voltaire (1694-1778)

 

Voltaire! Who I had studied at school, and who, smiling to myself, I remembered had been ultra-critical of the Catholic Church.

(Probably wasn’t his idea to end up here.)

 

 

A statue and sarcophagus holding the remains of one of France’s most renowned.

 

 

There was not a sound, and I continued in a reverent state discovering one after the other the tombs of writers and scholars like Emile Zola,  Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and others

who had made names for themselves like Madame Curie, the physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity.

 

 

 

It reminded me a little of being in Westminster Abbey in London where 30 Kings and Queens are among the thousands buried there.

 

That feeling about being among greatness and immense cultural history all packed into one place.

 

But this was more personal.  There were no crowds. Each room contained a few body-sized tombs and  I was able to run my hand on each name engraved on their burial vault.

 

It was as if I could feel the spirits of those that have been honoured here.

 

The hallways in the Crypt lead to various other hallways and cave-like rooms housing the tombs.

 

I did eventually find Josephine Bakers’ sarcophagus, and it was nice to see that someone had left some roses.

 

With so much beige concrete and spooky lighting everywhere, it was nice to see some colour.

 

Haha.

 

Hey, I think I heard Josephine giggle.

 

I didn’t see or hear any other ghosts, although I almost jumped a mile when I ran into another tourist on my way out!

 

 

Rest In Peace great lady!

 

As of December 2021, the remains of 81 people (75 men and six women) had been transferred to the Panthéon.

 

Have you visited the Panthéon and the Crypt?

 

What was your experience?

 

Please share below with all of us where it says “Leave A Reply.”

 

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9 Comments

  1. Catherine Willis-O'Connor on March 27, 2022 at 8:49 am

    Very cool. Where to next?

    • Diana Bishop on April 3, 2022 at 11:57 am

      Yes — a good question. I am in Paris now so I will be looking … stay tuned, Diana

  2. Shardie Stevenson on March 27, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    Not somewhere that I had on my Paris To Do list but such incredible People at rest in this place! The spirits must be having the most epic dinner parties !

    • Diana Bishop on April 3, 2022 at 11:56 am

      I know, nor on mine either. But Josephine Baker internment there was the catalyst and I am glad I saw it.

  3. Juliette Wood on March 27, 2022 at 2:19 pm

    I’ve never visited the tombs but would love to do so on my next trip! Thanks for the posting and suggestion.

  4. Gretchen Greene O'Brien on March 28, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    What an unusual excursion, Diana! The Pantheon looks magnificent. I, too, would have felt “reverent” as I descended those narrow stairs to the Crypt! Will you take Shardie there next week?

    • Diana Bishop on April 3, 2022 at 11:55 am

      I think you would have found it interesting. Great to have your comments back and hope you are enjoying your new home. Diana

  5. Laura R Campbell on April 3, 2022 at 10:07 am

    Loved your photos and comments on your journey down into the crypt! I”m kicking myself that I never visited the Pantheon when I was 22 yrs. and living in Paris. Probably went by it many times, but then I put it down to my foolish youth and taking things for granted! Thanks for sharing, Diana. Much enjoyed!

    • Diana Bishop on April 3, 2022 at 11:54 am

      Well, Laura, it took me umpteen visits to Paris before I went there too. Not on A list of things to do in the City of Light. But something you can always do sometime…these folks are not going anywhere!

      Love hearing from you and keep the comments coming!

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