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Dipping to ancient Paris

 

Eric Scott August 2014

 

RIGHT:  the wall of the quay on the Seine.

 

 

IT was opened in 1980, but I only discovered it in September last

year. It is theCrypte Archéologique or Archaeological Crypt under

Notre-Dame Cathedral inParis, and I found it to be a fascinating

glimpse into the history of the city thatcovers more than 2000 years.

And it was all discovered when excavations began back in 1965.

It is a big space, well lit and air conditioned; all you need is an hour

of your timeto wander through the ruins in this unique time capsule

as the past is unveiledlayer by layer. It is an eerie space, similar in atmosphere to the ruins at Pompeii

but with the addition of ultra modern 3D images on large touch screens that

recreate the original buildings and an audio visual display that reveals the ancient quay that used to serve the island on which Notre-Dame is built when it was much smaller.

There are remains of 4th century fortified walls from the Roman town of Lutetia which was built on the left bank of the Seine. There is a recreation of the town, settled by the Parisii, the Celtic tribe that first settled on the site of Paris 2000 years ago and from whom the city takes its name..

Many of the building were covered over when the Cathedral was begun in the 12th century. There are Gallo-Roman artefacts, which provide a fascinating look at the lives of the Roman Empire and how they lived in Paris. It didn’t have the glamour of some of the Parisienne sights, but I found it all quite interesting.

There are not toilets or cloakrooms on the site and there is no disabled access. Non flash photography without a tripod is allowed.

The archaeological Crypt is located under the Parvis and accessed by staircases opposite the cathedral, near the Police Headquarters / Préfecture de Police.

The crypt is currently managed by the Musée Carnavalet.

Open every day: from April 1-September 30, from 10 am to 6:30 pm. in July and August : Friday and Saturday, from 10 am to 11 pm; from October 1-March 31, 10 am to 5:30 pm. Last access 45 minutes before the closure. Closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25. Entry is six euro ($A8.50) 2.50 for kids ($A3.50)