For the urban explorer in all of us, those who want to see what fascinating history lies beneath the Parisian streets but who don’t dare venture down manhole covers and cross forbidden city lines, there is a museum that will guide you.
The Crypte Archeologique is one of those small museums in Paris (a little like the Sewer Museum) that often gets overlooked in the guidebooks in favour of the big hitters such as the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay.
But this space is a must-see for a true lover of the great city of light. Just metres from the entrance to the Notre Dame cathedral, the Crypte Archeologique describes itself as such: a cathedral to 2,000 years of history.
Its location on Ile de la Cité places it directly at the heart of ancient Paris, the epicentre of the city the Romans called Lutetia. In 1965, during construction work on the site. ancient remains were discovered that date back as far as the reign of Augustus (27BC to 14AD). Those remains are joined by centuries-old artefacts and architecture to create a journey through time that delights old and young alike.
The museum guides visitors through the ages of Paris by looking at its architectural development, displaying remains from 2,000 years ago right up to the modern day.
The Crypte recently underwent a full renovation (the first since it opened in 1980) and is currently structured into an exhibition called Paris Disparu/Paris Restitué.
I would definitely recommend this as a great place for anyone interested in the historical urbanisation of Paris.
The Crype Archeologique costs just 3 euros to visit and is open every day except Mondays and national holidays.
For more information: http://www.crypte.paris.fr