Airbnb is offering two lucky winners the opportunity to spend October 31st in one of the scariest places on Earth.
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The honeycomb of skull-lined ossuaries and dark alcoves that make up the infamous Paris catacombs have thrilled and haunted visitors for centuries. It is estimated the catacombs represent the final resting place for between six and seven million former Parisians, and are the sort of claustrophobic stuff of nightmares guaranteed to put a chill down the spine of even the most macabre of visitors.
In other words, it’s the perfect place for a spooky Halloween sleepover.
At least, that’s what Airbnb thinks. And to prove it, the peer-to-peer lodging service has launched a contest that will see two lucky (?) winners spending the night in one of the catacombs’ subterranean caverns, that has been customized with accommodations for a single night’s stay.
The company writes:
On Halloween night, journey to the center of the earth and learn about the hair-raising history of this mysterious subterranean labyrinth. Satisfy your thirst for adventure in the sprawling network of skulls and bones. Next, savor a dazzling culinary experience while enjoying a private concert in the most incredible acoustics under the earth.
Before bedtime, a storyteller will have you spellbound with fascinating tales from the catacombs, guaranteed to produce nightmares. Finally, enjoy dawn with the dead, as you become the only living person ever to wake up in the Paris catacombs.
Questionable as that last claim may be, the fact remains that the Paris catacombs are, for some brave souls, the perfect place to spend a scarily good Halloween night just down the hall from the bones of notables like writer François Rabelais, and French Revolutionary figure Maximilien Robspierre.
image via (cc) flickr user austinevan
There are those, however, who are less than thrilled at the prospect of a pair of Halloween spook-seekers bedding down for the night in what’s often billed as the “world’s largest grave.” The BBC reports that Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has faced criticism from city council members who worry the contest is disrespectful to the dead, whose bodies reside in the catacombs. Agence France Presse, citing Paris town hall sources, claims Airbnb paid approximately €350,000 (nearly $400,000) to rent the chambers for the evening.
To enter Airbnb’s content, all one has to do is submit a one hundred word story—in either English or French—that explains “why you think you're brave enough to sleep in the Paris Catacombs.” Entries will be accepted through October 20th, and judged by a team of Airbnb staff, along with an “independant judge,” based on originality, and how well it relates to Halloween and the catacombs.
Whoever wins the contest is also reminded to be on their best behavior. According to a translation of the contest’s French rules rules, the catacombs guests are asked to “Please respect the tranquility of [their] Parisian neighbors, living and dead.”