Paris Underground: Catacombs and the Hidden City with Dr. Nigel Perrin

Paris Underground: Catacombs and the Hidden City with Dr. Nigel Perrin


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Beneath the streets of Paris lurks a mysterious, secret world. For centuries, the shadowy realm of the underground has played a crucial role in the city’s development, forming both its literal and metaphorical foundations. From the construction of the famous catacombs, whose vast networks of tunnels preserve memories and hidden treasures of the old city, to Paris’s labyrinthine metro and sewer systems, the underground has slowly been conquered by great feats of technological progress.

Yet despite its increasing proximity to the modern world, this urban space has somehow remained the incubator of myth and legend, a place of wonder, fear, and sometimes paranoia. From The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables to the photography of Nadar, the underground has also inspired many artists and attracted everyone from royalty to revolutionaries and smugglers. Today this secretive layer of the city continues to be just as essential, just as intriguing, just as invisible.

Led by an expert on French history, this conversation traces the fascinating history of subterranean Paris: we will explore the real and imagined places of the city’s underworld, and the personalities and factors that have helped to define its unique character.

Nigel has long been fascinated by the history of France during the Occupation, particularly in relation to the work of British secret services, a subject he began studying in 2003. 'Spirit of Resistance', his biography of secret agent Harry Peulevé, was published in 2008. Having completed his MA in Modern History at the University of Kent in Paris in 2015, he has now begun a doctorate on a spatial history of Paris under Occupation.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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