National Geographic : 2011 Feb
of bubbles. e pit was only about 16 feet deep, nothing at the bottom. But at least his map can now be improved. We spend several more hours wandering through crypts full of moldering bones and gal- leries of immense, bright murals. We pass the spot where, a few days earlier, I'd taken some wrong turns with a pair of cata ics---the cops charged with chasing the Yopies and Domi- niques of the underworld. Yopie takes us to a room that isn't on any map. He and friends spent years lugging in cement and rearranging lime- stone blocks to build benches, a table, a sleeping platform. e room is comfortable and clean. Niches for candles are carved into the walls. e beige stone glows warmly. I ask Yopie what draws him underground. "No boss, no master," he says. "Many people come down here to party, some people to paint. Some people to destroy or to create or to explore. We do what we want here. We don't have rules. At the surface..." He waves his hand and smiles. Lights a ciga- rette. "We say, 'To be happy, stay hidden.' " In Les Misérables Victor Hugo called the Paris sewers the "conscience of the city," because from them all humans look equal. In a small van full of sewer workers about to begin their shi in the 14th arrondissement, Pascal Quignon, a 20-year veteran, is talking of more concrete things---the pockets of explosive gas, the diseases, the monstrous rats rumored to dwell under Chi- natown. His father worked in the égouts before him, his grandfather too. Beside a bookshop in a narrow street we zip into white Tyvek bodysuits and pull on hip waders, whitish rubber gloves, and white hel- mets. All this white seems unwise, a potentially Under the Stones, the Beach In a sandy chamber known as the "beach," a wave rolls across a wall painted (and repainted) by cataphiles in the style of Japanese printmaker Hokusai. Such works can take hundreds of hours--- the painting but also the carrying in of supplies. At a book party in another quarry, artist Michel Chevereau (wearing headlamp) and writer Jack Manini (on Chevereau's left) sign copies of their graphic novel Le Diable Vert. Set in and under Paris during the Nazi occupation, it combines history---Resistance fighters hid in the tunnels---with folktales of a subterranean green devil.