A spiral staircase in the Denfert-Rochereau section of the catacombs (all photographs by the author unless indicated)
Perhaps the most well-known “ruin” in Paris is the catacombs, a network of quarries that span around 200 miles under the city (in fact Parisians have been known to compare their city to a holey cheese there are so many tunnels dug out under the surface).
A small portion of the catacombs were renovated and turned into ossuaries when the original resting places for the bodies were no longer viable, giving it the reputation of being one of the world’s largest graves.
Since 1874, a section has been open on a regular basis for tourists. However, what a lot of tourists don’t realize is that this is only a small segment of the mass network of tunnels.
Upon entering the ossuaries, you are faced with this warning: “Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort” (“Stop! Here lies the Empire of Death”), whereupon you are met with the first of the remains of the six million people that are buried within the catacombs.
Le Carrefour des Morts (“The Crossroad of Death”), a part of the catacombs not open to the public (photograph by Adam Slater)
As a popular tourist attraction, the catacombs now often have an enormous queue snaking around the block, thus it is always advisable to be early and expect a wait, and dress in layers — it can be extremely cold or hot outside, but the catacombs maintain a fairly consistent temperature once you enter the quarry tunnels.
For the more daring, the museum is only the start of your potential journey. The tunnels extend far beyond what is available to see here, but nonetheless provides a fascinating visit. Though you might just find yourself bending the parameters of “easily accessible” and joining the cataphiles in order to seek out the rest.
“I had been making sculptures with found materials in forests at different times over 10 years,” Spencer Byles told Bored Panda. “I felt I needed to concentrate on one large project and produce good quality photographs of each sculpture”
In an extraordinary act of devotion to his art, sculptural artist Spencer Byles spent a year creating beautiful sculptures out of natural and found materials throughout the unmanaged forests of La Colle Sur Loup (where he lived with his family), Villeneuve Loubet and Mougins.
He worked together with elements of his natural surroundings to create artwork that blends seamlessly with the environment.
“I set out with no particular plan and had no expectation how it might evolve. I responded in different ways to each location and worked on at least 20 sculptures at one time. I worked spontaneously with out any drawings or planned design”
Byles’ project is intentionally secretive – the only way you’ll see these work short of his photos is by going into the woods and finding them yourself.
I imagine that coming upon such a fantastic structure unexpectedly in the woods is sure to be quite a magical surprise.
One of the most beautiful things about his work is its temporary nature.
The pieces were not intended to last, and each sculpture will eventually be reclaimed by the natural environment that helped Byles shape it.
This full circle gives the organic pieces a powerful poetic and philosophical touch.
Read on for Spencer Byles’ answers to Bored Panda’s questions about his work!
More info: frenchforestsculptures.blogspot.fr | Facebook (h/t: mymodernmet)
A model of the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon at the London Science Museum.
The brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier developed a hot air balloon in Annonay, Ardeche, France, and demonstrated it publicly on September 19, 1783, making an unmanned flight lasting 10 minutes.
After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first balloon flight with humans aboard, a tethered flight, performed on or around October 15, 1783, by Jean-Francois pilatre de Rozier who made at least one tethered flight from the yard of the Reveillon workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine.
Later that same day, Pilatre de Rozier became the second human to ascend into the air, reaching an altitude of 26 m (85 ft), the length of the tether.
The first free flight with human passengers was made a few weeks later, on November 21, 1783.
King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but de Rozier, along with Marquis François d’Arlandes, petitioned successfully for the honor.
The first military use of a hot air balloon happened in 1794 during the battle of Fleurus, when the French used the balloon for observation.