Parisians and Paris visitors may recognize this particular Monoprix, a Target-like chain in France, in the Marais neighborhood at Reaumur Sebastopol. But down underneath the aisles are over 150 bodies discovered only when the supermarket attempted to expand, as reported by 20 Minutes and Messy Nessy Chic. This location, on Boulevard de Sébastopol, was the location of The Trinity Hospital cemetery that operated between the 12th and 18th centuries. While the bodies in most burial locations in Paris were relocated to the Catacombs two centuries ago, these were left.
The bodies were found in 8 mass graves, over a space of 100 square meters. According to Isabelle Abadie, archeologist of the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (translated from French), “We quickly realized that the bodies had been deposited in a very organized, placed head to tail in three parallel rows tight, probably to save space. The dead have been placed in a fabric envelope as a hospital sheet or shroud before the deposit. All these indications lead us to believe that we are facing a life crisis. This large number of deaths could be due to an epidemic, famine, or disease, for example.”
The institute will be doing carbon testing to determine the age and other details of this burial. Later this month, however, on March 20th, the excavations will end to allow the store to continue operation. After testing in a lab, the bodies will be reburied.
Next, read about the catacombs around the world from Paris to London to Rome, even New York. Read an interview with urban explorer Moses Gates about his exploration in the Paris catacombs.
Michelle is the founder of Untapped New York. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture.