Spend the Night in Paris's Bone-Filled Catacombs
Lodging website Airbnb isn’t hurting for unusual accommodations: Travelers booking rooms can arrange to stay in a teepee on Idaho’s Snake River, a treehouse in France, a cubehouse in the Netherlands, a seashell house in Mexico, and even a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. But none of these places packs the spook factor of Airbnb’s latest listing: Paris’s Catacombs.
Initially a series of stone quarries, the Catacombs became the final resting place to bones from several Parisian cemeteries beginning in 1786. Officials moved the bones there after overcrowding in cemeteries, combined with improper disposal techniques, led to the spread of disease in the city. The last bones were placed in the Catacombs in 1859. Today, the Catacombs are a macabre but popular tourist attraction, drawings thousands of people every year.
Airbnb Ireland is giving two lucky winners a chance to spend Halloween night among the bones of six million Parisians. The listing description promises “a dazzling culinary experience,” a personal storyteller who “will have you spellbound with fascinating tales from the catacombs, guaranteed to produce nightmares,” and a private concert “in the most incredible acoustics under the earth.” (This is a throwback—the underground crypts hosted small concerts in the late 1850s.) Finally, the winners will "enjoy dawn with the dead, as you become the only living person ever to wake up in the Paris catacombs."
But there are a few rules the winners must abide by, according to the listing:
No tricks. But plenty of treats.
Please respect the Catacombs as you would your own grave.
Be mindful of your Parisian neighbors, both the living and the dead.
No bobbing for apples in the Catacomb pools.
Don't forget your toothbrush and pajamas. Bonus points if they glow in the dark.
Does this sound like your ideal Halloween night? Then prepare a 100-word essay that explains why you deserve to stay in the Catacombs. (The originality and creativity of your story—"Does it surprise and delight us?"—is weighted 70 percent, while the remaining 30 percent is all about spirit: "How does your submission relate to the Paris Catacombs and Halloween?") Participants must be 18 years old and signed up with Airbnb. Entries are due by October 20; you can submit them here.