The Phantoms of Paris

The following is an article from Uncle John's OLD FAITHFUL 30th Anniversary edition.

Do you believe in ghosts? Paris is loaded with them. Here are a few famous spots in the City of Light where believers claim you’re likely to encounter some spirited residents.

THE LOUVRE

Every year, millions of people visit this museum to see the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and other masterpieces. The building dates to the 12th century, when it served as a fortress for Philip II. Since then, the grounds have borne witness to wars, plagues, and other calamities, which is one reason why the Louvre is considered by ghost hunters to be the most haunted place in France. Since it was converted into a museum in 1793, visitors and staff have reported spectral orbs, mysterious shadows, and human-looking figures lingering among the artworks.

French legend also tells of a gnomelike ghoul dressed in red that often appears near the Louvre as a harbinger of national tragedy. Often referred to as “the Little Red Man,” the spirit is supposedly capable of offsetting impending doom… for the right price. If the tales are true, he’s bargained with French rulers including Henry IV, Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon, who failed to heed the Little Red Man’s advice and suffered the consequences at the Battle of Waterloo. The museum’s other ghosts are said to include the spirits of French soldiers and prisoners who were once held captive in its dungeon.

NOTRE DAME

(Image credit: Flickr user RobinTphoto)

According to local legend, a depressed woman known only by the initials “MJ” visited the iconic cathedral in 1882. She wanted to climb up one of the towers but was turned away by guards because women weren’t permitted to enter that area without a chaperone. So, MJ found one- an elderly woman who was touring the main floor of the cathedral. As the two women reached the parapets, MJ did what she came there to do: she flung herself over the side and landed on one of the spiked railings below. Her ghost has been spotted near the tower’s gargoyles. Another legend claims that a locksmith commissioned to craft all the locks for Notre Dame back in the 12th century was so overwhelmed by the task that he asked the devil to help in his workshop. The devil agreed, and the locksmith died a few days after finishing the project. His soulless spirit, it is said, still wanders the grounds.

PÈRE-LACHAISE

(YouTube link)

The grandiose tombs and elaborate statues featured in this cemetery attract countless tourists annually. It is the final resting place of Doors frontman Jim Morrison, whose spirit reportedly still hangs around his grave. Rock historian Brett Meisner had his photo taken next to Morrison’s headstone in 1997 and was shocked by what he found when the film was developed. Standing behind Meisner was a pale figure with his arms outstretched, an iconic pose often struck by the Lizard King. The cemetery is also said to be home to the restless spirit of French novelist Marcel Proust, as well as two lovers who rise from their graves on opposite sides of the cemetery nightly and forlornly wander the grounds in search of one another.

THE PARIS CATACOMBS

(Image credit: Flickr user Jeremy Sternberg)

Deep beneath the streets of Paris are the bones of no less than six million people. For most of the 18th century, the city’s cemeteries couldn’t keep up with all the victims of war, disease, and other fatalities. With nowhere else to turn, city officials began piling their bones in the catacombs -the maze of old limestone mines- that lay beneath Paris. Needless to say, the catacombs are thought to be haunted by countless spirits who are upset about the fact that their remains were so unceremoniously discarded. Many visitors have returned from the catacombs with videos of weird glowing lights and photos of spectral orbs. Others have reported being touched by invisible hands, being followed by illusory figures, and even the sensation of being strangled.

THE EIFFEL TOWER

(Image credit: Flickr user Y Nakanishi)

Hundreds of visitors have committed suicide by jumping off the “Iron Lady,” but the Paris landmark’s ghost isn’t among them. According to legend, a young woman asked her lover to meet her at the top of the tower, where she planned to tell him she was ending the affair. The woman hoped that the beauty of the city below would soften the blow of the difficult message she was about to deliver. But when they reached the top -before the woman was able to tell him the reason for the meeting- the man proposed marriage. Shocked, she began laughing nervously. The man was so humiliated by her disdain that, in a fit of rage, he pushed her over the edge and she fell to her death. Are the stories true? Head to the tower’s top observatory platform late at night and you may hear the sound of her laughter… followed by bloodcurdling screams.

__________

The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's OLD FAITHFUL 30th Anniversary edition. Every year for the past three decades, Uncle John and his team of tireless researchers have delivered an epic tome packed with thousands of fascinating factoids. And now this extra-special 30th anniversary edition has everything you've come to expect from the BRI, and more! It's stuffed with 512 pages of all-new articles sure to please everyone.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!


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