Sunday, 9 January 2011

Ground Level, Going Down

In some of the older districts, slightly off the general thoroughfare, you can still find some decidedly characterful entrance halls and, of course, lifts. That would be 'elevators' to our transatlantic friends, and 'ascenders' for the locals.

Creaking and clunking aside, gloom and grime apart, I got a fright as I was waiting for my ride to arrive, when a hunched, shuffling, Quasimodo-type figure brushed past me from I don't know where and opened the door to another creepy place: the room leading to the bins... and the ill-lit stairs going down to the basement. These places have always spooked me out, and believe you me, the Parisians sure knew how to make spooky, dimly-lit, labyrinthine basements in their day.

The guy had been, judging by the filthy state of his overalls, fixing the 'vide-ordures' (garbage chute) or some other aspect of the building's entrails, but his incoherent reply/grunt to my nervous 'Bonjour' did nothing to calm my already tattered nerves.

The apartment block, on a steep hill near the Parc Butte-Chaumont, also possesses the interesting characteristic of having half of its eight floors effectively submerged on one side, its backside being built directly into the hillside as it were. Thoughts of being buried alive, and questions as to just how far back that maze of basement 'caves' goes kept niggling at the back of my mind.

As I stepped into the creaking contraption and the old metal grill clanged shut, making the internal wooden swing doors shudder slightly, I couldn't help noticing, as I reached up to punch the seventh floor where my friend lives, reassuringly above ground on both sides, that the lowest button, for the basement level minus three, was already ominously glowing...

(A Paris iPhone street photograph by Sab Will for the 'Paris and I' photo blog @ paris-and-i.parissetmefree.com )

1 comment:

nodamnblog said...

No way would you ever get me there. No way. Never.

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