Amanda Rollins urged viewers not to venture down into Paris's catacombs
Sure, they’re not quite the Eiffel Tower, but Paris’s catacombs are one of the city’s most popular attractions – particularly for the morbidly curious.
Anyone can visit the maze of galleries and ossuary, which holds the bones of several million Parisians, via the catacombs’ official museum.
However, most of the subterranean labyrinth, which spans some 150 miles across the city, is off-limits to visitors. Still, that doesn’t stop thrill-seekers from breaking in.
And yet, a TikTok influencer has come under criticism from French authorities for trying to put people off exploring the underground maze by promoting a wild conspiracy theory.
Amanda Rollins, who goes by Americanfille on social media, posted an impassioned monologue earlier this month, claiming that members of a secret community live deep within the network.
She insisted that these sinister strangers “don’t want tourists going down there” and so they attack unwitting intruders, leaving them to die down in the musty gloom.
In her video, Amanda said that her ex-boyfriend (who is Parisian), told her: “There [are] people that live down there, and what they will do when they see you coming in with your map, with your flashlights [...] They'll run up to you, grab your flashlight and grab your map and then run away.”
Do not ever go into the Paris Catacombs! (Apart from the museum tour) #pariscatacombs #catacombs
In her clip, which has racked up more than 46.7 million views, she admitted that she had previously wanted to explore the mysterious warren, and had even bought a headtorch for the occasion but, after hearing her ex’s warning, had changed her mind.
“I'm not going in there, I'm never going in there; it's just a bad idea,” she stressed.
“And it might seem cute and funny, but it's not, you're gonna get disgusting. You could die. Just please don't ever do it.”
Her video has received more than 5.5 million likes and received more than 33,665 comments, as fellow TikTokers shared their terror at her description of the “snatchers”.
“I’m scared I’m going to accidentally sneak into the catacombs (I’m literally in Michigan),” one joked.
Visitors can visit the official catacombs site, which holds the remains of millions of Parisians Les Catacombes de Paris
However, French police have been less than impressed by Amanda’s tale, insisting that it’s entirely baseless.
“It’s totally false,” Major Sylvie Gautron, who leads a police unit responsible for surveying the “cataphiles” (the title used for people who enjoy venturing down into the labyrinth), told The Times.
“There is no racketeering or death in the catacombs because of the cataphiles. There might be the occasional incident but nothing like what [Amanda] describes.”
Indeed, there’s no evidence that anyone lives in the catacombs and the last person known to have died down there was a worker who got lost while reinforcing the city’s foundations back in 1793, The Times reports.
Still, despite it now being illegal to enter the galleries that aren’t open to the public, hundreds of people are thought to do so every year, entering the complex system via manholes.
During Halloween 2022, police caught 199 people in the subterranean passages. They were fined as much as €1,500 (around £1,315) each – which is possibly even more off-putting than the prospect of encountering a group of aggressive mole people, quite frankly.