No matter where you live, beneath the city you know, there’s a whole other world. A world of hidden secrets and dangerous legends. And that even though we might carry out our normal lives in relative safety, the past is always lurking just below the surface, like the shadow of a monstrous creature. And what better place to dig for the lost and forgotten, than Paris, the City of Lights. Because where there’s light, there’s also a whole lot of shadow.
The crash course in Parisian history that host Aaron Mahnke gives at the start of Episode 141 of the Lore podcast drives home the point that from the bubonic plague to the Reign of Terror and beyond, the city has seen more than its fair share of fatality over the centuries. “A city can’t endure that much death,” Mahnke states, “without leaving a stain, a dark mark that can still be seen today.” The episode attends to some of the most prominent of these stains. After brief discussion of the ghosts of Pere Lachaise cemetery (including that of Jim Morrison, for whom death didn’t seem to be “The End”), Mahnke leads his audience down into the bone-stocked catacombs underlying the streets of Paris. He shares an effectively creepy tale about a subterranean disappearance, but even more interesting is the explanation of how the catacombs came to be created in the first place. From here, Mahnke relates a gory story of murder and meat pies, one that would become the source of a famous penny dreadful (and an even better Tim Burton film).
Admittedly, I am sometimes underwhelmed by the closing segments of Lore‘s episodes, but that certainly is not the case here. Mahnke concludes with a fascinating narrative about Catherine de’ Medici and a seemingly inescapable curse. Deeply enjoyable from start to finish, “Stains” forms a bright spot in the history of this long-running podcast.