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Over €250 000 of wine stolen from secret Paris cellar

Over €250 000 of wine has been stolen from a private cellar in Paris after thieves bore a hole into the secret underground walls 20 metres below the city.

Thieves are said to have drilled into the catacombs - the underground network of tunnels spanning more than 250km underneath the capital - and clearly knew which cavern they were aiming for.

Once inside the cellar, which was underneath an apartment in the upmarket 6th arrondissement, they then made off with over 300 bottles of vintage grand cru wine, together worth over a quarter of a million euros.

“We believe that it was not their first visit; the suspects did not drill that particular wall by accident,” said a French police spokesman to the French press.

The Paris catacombs comprise tunnels - not sewers, although some form part of old sewer holes - below the city. Adapted from underground quarries first established over 500 years ago, many of them are etched with the names of the corresponding streets above them, to help make them easier to navigate.

Used in the 18th and 19th centuries as cemeteries for the bones of deceased Parisians, some of the catacombs feature walls of skulls.

They are officially closed to the public at night time, but unofficially there are said to be many secret entrances to the tunnels, and they are - according to rumour - often used for secret meetings, parties, secret events and even cinema screenings.

Even during the day, only around 1km of the network is open to the public with a guide, and it is easy to get confused; in June, two teenage boys who had been part of a group tour were lost for three days, and had to be rescued by emergency services.

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