Exploring Underground Paris
If you enjoy the History Channel’s “Cities of the Underworld” you’ll appreciate this group. Or perhaps not appreciate them. “les UX” is a group of Parisians who not only engage in the urban exploration of a city containing mountains of history below it’s streets, but also repair and restore many of the antiquated relics that they encounter.
Much to the annoyance of French authorities, these subversives break into old crypts, monuments, museums, and catacombs. Not to vandalize, but rather to meet, converse, observe, and repair and restore.
Whether you agree with their methods or not, these people are bringing forgotten elements of urban history to light. History DOES belong to it’s people. If city leaders and historians are not acknowledging or protecting certain places and another group steps in to do the job – I see no harm in that. It’s quite respectable in my opinion. From UK’s Times Online:
Last year the Untergunther spent months hidden in the Panthéon, the Parisian mausoleum that holds France’s greatest citizens, where they repaired a clock that had been left to rust. Slipping in at closing time every evening – French television said that they had their own set of keys – they set up a workshop hidden behind mock wooden crates at the top of the monument. The security guards never found it. The Untergunther used a professional clockmaker, Jean-Baptiste Viot, to mend the 150-year-old mechanism.
When the clock began working again, officials were horrified. The Centre for National Monuments confirmed that the clock had been repaired but said that the authority had begun legal action against the Untergunther. Under official investigation for breaking and entry, its members face a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a €15,000 (£10,500) fine.