Who would dare to spend Halloween night with the dead in the Paris Catacombs? Lodging website Airbnb launched a contest earlier this month to offer a ghoulish bed-and-breakfast experience for two brave souls to spend Halloween night in the depths of the underground grave. The experience comes complete with a tour of the underground tunnels, a "real bed," dinner, a private concert, and breakfast the following morning, all alongside 6 million skeletons. "Become the only living person ever to wake up in the Paris catacombs," states the listing, which assumes that the renters will actually be able to sleep.To some, the fact that Paris—the service's number-one destination for home-sharing—would authorize the promotion at the sacred burial ground is just as frightening. Airbnb paid the city €350,000 (about $383,938) to privatize the catacombs for the one night.
Created in 1777 amidst overcrowding in cemeteries, which resulted in improper burials and growing public health concerns about decomposing bodies, the underground cemetery contains the remains of about 6 million people, giving it the reputation of being the "world's largest grave." The catacombs accepted the remains of the dead until 1814, and shortly after, opened to the public. Now the site is a tourist attraction that draws in 500,000 visitors each year.
In the past, the site has been rented out to film crews and used for fashion shows, but nobody has ever spent the night there before. Even though the catacombs have been privatized for various events, the contest nevertheless sparked controversy among Parisians who believe the city is authorizing the promotion, which dishonors those buried at the ossuary and could disturb the heritage of the site, only for the financial benefit.
According to Forbes, the city plans to use the money to help fund the preservation of the site and Airbnb promises that private guards will ensure the protection of the site, as well as the safety of the guests on Halloween night.
"From an ethical perspective, sleeping in the Catacombs is not like any other activity, and it opens the door to a number of excesses in the privatization of our patrimony," Dominique Quenehen, a delegate representing the city’s museum workers, said in the Forbes article.
Check out Airbnb’s listing for the Paris Catacombs here.