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Nice Locked Out, WICE Writers Workshop, and Paris Under Paris

The Paris "Catahpiles," catacombs


Last week I wrote about Joe Siart’s new book, My Property Payday and before it even hit your inbox, Le Figaro ran an article about the rental laws in Nice.

Joe Siart holding his book My Property Payday

It turns out that the city has gotten its hand slapped by the courts for overstepping their authority vis a vis short-term rentals. Nice is second to Paris when it comes to the number of vacation rentals on various platforms. The city has been working hard to limit the proliferation of Airbnb-type tourist rentals, but the courts have just rejected the regulations.

The city letter of regulating short-term rentals in Nice

Since 2022, owners who wished to rent their apartments in Nice for short-term vacation use had to prove that it was authorized by the bylaws of the co-ownership…in the “Règlement de Copropriété.” In 70% of the cases, the requests were refused in order to reduce the number of rental properties. As is the norm, full-time residents living near these short-term rental apartments complained about the constant comings and goings and various noise and material nuisances, especially in Old Town.

Nice tracking lock-boxes for short-term rentals

Stopping them altogether is not the answer to getting the vacationers to behave better! Old Town is a tourist destination packed with restaurants and bars that make plenty of noise. Anyone living in the district must be able to accept that, so why would vacation apartments pose any worse of a problem? In addition, I contend that many owners who complain, also do not hesitate to rent apartments themselves when they travel, thinking nothing of speaking out of both sides of their mouths! I’ve heard it myself from these people way too often!

On the news, the zone pietonne in Nice

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi claims he doesn’t want to completely eradicate seasonal accommodation available with online platforms, but he absolutely wants to limit the number to keep a balance between locals and tourists. The city will appeal the court’s decision, and we’ll see who wins this battle…but I continue to contend that there is better way of fixing this problem than punishing the landlords and taking the revenues out of the hands of the locals. I have a plan…but they haven’t asked me! Ha!


The Paris Writers Workshop is the longest running literary program of its kind in Paris. I’ve participated in it myself, not as a student, but on a panel of bloggers and on a Zoom discussion with students.

Those who have participated say it’s an inspiring week in the City of Light because it offers a a dynamic community of writers and literary agents—to learn, to write, to network, to energize your literary goals, and just to have fun.

So, mark your calendars for June 2nd through June 7th, when the early summer weather is perfect for creativity and camaraderie.

This year there are six masterclasses led by renowned authors, each a specialist in their field. The workshop will be held at Columbia University’s beautiful Reid Hall campus in the heart of literary Paris. Located on the left bank of the Seine, this historic location offers pleasant rooms for the afternoon masterclasses, an auditorium for the evening panel discussions, and a lovely garden for informal gatherings.

The line up of speakers for the 2024 Paris Writer's Workshop

Early bird registration is open now! Information and registration available here.


I stole the title of this section from my friend, Geraldine Kaylor, who wrote all about it in her blog, the Travel Oyster, as long ago as January 2014. Over oyster lunch on Sunday with Geraldine’s French friends, one of them talked about her adventures in the catacombs as a “Cataphile,” aka “Kataphile”—the urban explorers who venture illegally into the Mines of Paris—a collective term referring to a labyrinthine network of tunnels initially constructed as stone mines but now abandoned. Among these tunnels lies the infamous Catacombs des Paris.

A section of the Catacombs in Paris

The adventures she experienced are illegal, unauthorized and are strictly prohibited, except that it’s done and tolerated by the authorities. While a small section is accessible to the public, the vast network of tunnels extends approximately 280 kilometers throughout the city, posing challenges for navigation. The complexity of the tunnel system, coupled with the absence of clear markers in some areas, increases the risk of getting lost. Moreover, passages vary in height and width, and some are partially submerged. Aging infrastructure such as telephone wires and pipes further complicates exploration, and although cave-ins are rare, they do occur sporadically. Given these dangers, entering the catacombs without official supervision has been illegal since November 2, 1955, with violators subject to a 60€ fine enforced by the ‘Equipe de Recherche et d’Intervention en Carrières (E.R.I.C.), colloquially known as “cataflics,” who patrol the mines.

Despite stringent measures, secret entrances scattered throughout Paris offer alternative access points, including sewers, Métro stations, and specific manholes. Some individuals possess keys to official entrances, occasionally exploiting them for these clandestine activities to which she was referring, such as covert meetings, treasure hunts, unconventional gatherings, or as part of urban exploration ventures.

Map of Paris Underground

Geraldine’s French friend, who shall remain nameless and who has an alias when entering the mines, recently partied with friends from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the “Paris Under Paris.” Incredibly, in September 2004, French authorities uncovered an underground cinema operated by “Les UX” (short for Urban eXperiment), a clandestine collective of urban explorers dedicated to enhancing concealed spaces within Paris. Their endeavors range from refurbishing the clock at the Panthéon to constructing a cinema, along with a bar and restaurant, within a segment of the Paris Catacombs beneath the Trocadéro. They also undertake projects such as the restoration of medieval crypts and organizing theatrical performances and literary readings within monuments during the night.


Cataphiles frequently embark on excursions lasting from a day to several days, engaging in activities such as exploration, photography, mural painting, cartography, room maintenance, and the excavation of “chatières” (cat flaps)—extremely narrow tunnels accessible only by crawling.

While they want to remain anonymous, it’s not tough to find on the internet. With a search, the site “Un monde sous la ville,” easily comes up (in French) which offers up the unofficial map of the network. You’ll also find a Facebook Group, however it’s private, so good luck getting in!

Geraldine’s article may be 10 years old, but it’s still worth a read, as for me this was all hearsay. I will never be one to venture underground as bravely as she did (I’ll leave that for the young). I would be creeped out by the bones, the dark, the damp and the confinement! But, maybe you wouldn’t?

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds in New OrleansAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. Friday I am headed to New Orleans, Maui and Los Angeles for 2.5 weeks to visit family and friends. I will be writing from these destinations so I hope to bring you a kind of travelogue, but beware that the timing of the Nouvellettres® may be a bit more erratic than usual. Please forgive me.



  1. Annette Sousa on February 12, 2024 at 11:24 am

    Thank you Adrian for such an insightful blog! You’re a gem and I always enjoy hearing more from everything Paris. I’ve been twice and love my time there.
    Originally from Los Angeles I’m living in Ottawa Canada now with my Quebecois French husband.
    I worked in film and television for year’s, and traveled quite a bit.
    One of my current endeavors is I lead walking tours for the Ukrainian newcomers here in Ottawa. It’s quite humbling and they are grateful as well.
    Thank you again Adrian!
    Merci 🤗

  2. Judith L on February 12, 2024 at 12:11 pm

    The building where my apartment is located, which is not quite in Old Town but close to Place Massena, did vote to allow short-term rentals. However, by that time I had used up the six years permitted by the City of Nice so I had already stopped renting my place.

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