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( UX ) Urban eXperiment: The new French underground

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posted on Feb, 13 2012 @ 05:33 PM
I had heard of UX, or Urban eXperiment before, but I had never read an article about them.

UX is a secretive group of people in Paris that secretly renovate and restore important historical sites and artifacts that have been neglected by the government. They also conduct many artistic ventures such as having secret film festivals in old govenment building basements.
Most of the access to the sites is thru the many tunnels beneath Paris, and entrance into their group is by request only.

The article is an amazing read. While I think their efforts are worthy due to the neglect of the sites they work on, some of their methods are illegal, and probably shouldn't be encouraged.

Thirty years ago, in the dead of night, A group of six Parisian teenagers pulled off what would prove to be a fateful theft.

They met at a small café near the Eiffel Tower to review their plans, before heading out into the dark. Lifting a grate from the street, they descended a ladder to a tunnel, an unlit concrete passageway carrying a cable off into the void. They followed the cable to its source: the basement of the Ministry of Telecommunications. Horizontal bars blocked their way, but the skinny teens managed to wedge themselves through and climb to the building's ground floor. There they found three keyrings in the security office and a logbook indicating that the guards were on their rounds.

But the guards were nowhere to be seen. The six interlopers combed the building for hours, encountering no one, until they found what they were looking for at the bottom of a desk drawer -- maps of the ministry's city-wide network of tunnels. They took one copy of each map, then returned the keys to the security office. Heaving the ministry's grand front door ajar, they peeked outside; no police, no passersby, no problem. They exited onto the empty Avenue de Ségur and walked home as the Sun rose. The mission had been so easy that one of the youths, Natacha, asked herself if she had dreamed it. No, she concluded: "In a dream, it would have been more complicated."

What has made much of this work possible is UX's mastery, established 30 years ago and refined since, of the city's network of underground passageways -- hundreds of kilometres of interconnected telecom, electricity and water tunnels, sewers, catacombs, subways and centuries-old quarries. Like computer hackers who crack digital networks and surreptitiously take control of key machines, members of UX carry out clandestine missions throughout Paris's supposedly secure underground tunnels and rooms. The group routinely uses the tunnels to access restoration sites and stage film festivals, for example, in the disused basements of government buildings.

UX's most sensational caper (or, at least, revealed so far) happened in 2006. A dedicated cadre spent months infiltrating the Panthéon, the grand structure in Paris that houses the remains of France's most cherished citizens. Eight restorers built their own secret workshop in a storeroom, which they wired for electricity and internet access and outfitted with armchairs, tools, a fridge and a hot plate. During the course of a year, they painstakingly restored the Panthéon's 19th-century clock. The neighbourhood must have been shocked to hear the clock sound for the first time in decades: on the hour, the half-hour, the quarter-hour.

Eight years ago, the French government didn't know UX existed. When their exploits first trickled out into the press, the group's members were deemed by some to be dangerous outlaws, thieves, even potential inspiration for terrorists. Still, a few officials can't conceal their admiration. Mention UX to Sylvie Gautron of the Paris police -- her speciality is monitoring the city's old quarries -- and her face breaks into a smile. In an era when ubiquitous GPS and microprecise mapping threaten to squeeze all the mystery from our great world cities, UX seems to know, and indeed to own, a deeper, hidden layer of Paris. It claims the entire city, above- and below-ground, as its canvas; its members say they can access every last government building, every narrow telecom tunnel. Does Gautron believe this? "It's possible," she says. "Everything they do is very intense."

Please read the article for more information. It's very detailed on their use of the tunnels, and about some of the things that they have done thru the years. I don't condone doing anything illegal, but I do feel that there are MANY historical sites in our world that are just left to time, and if there is someone out there that wants to use their time and money, and risk breaking the law to fix something that would otherwise be left to ruin, I wish them the best of luck.
edit on 13-2-2012 by isyeye because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 13 2012 @ 05:38 PM

Originally posted by isyeye
UX is a secretive group of people in Paris that secretly renovate and restore important historical sites and artifacts that have been neglected by the government.

Sounds like my kind of secret society. Excellent find.

posted on Feb, 13 2012 @ 05:49 PM
awesome read thanks for posting this! its nice to know there are still some good Secret Societies out there.

posted on Feb, 14 2012 @ 12:49 PM
reply to post by AugustusMasonicus

Exactly what I think. At first reading the article I thought it was going to go into stories of people using the tunnels for bad uses, violence, drugs, robbery etc .. but this was fascinating. I think it'd be harder for Americans to truly appreciate as our cities are so young we do not have layer upon layer of underground tunnels, catacombs and secret passages as the great cities of Europe.

OP: Do you know of any video / documentaries on this UX group?

posted on Feb, 14 2012 @ 01:07 PM
Flagged and starred as this is a very interesting story I'd not came across.


posted on Feb, 14 2012 @ 01:32 PM
reply to post by Rockpuck

The only video that I have been able to find about UX shows them working on the Pantheon clock.


I'm still trying to uncover some more information about UX, but there isn't much that I have found that isn't talked about in the article. I'll continue looking.
edit on 14-2-2012 by isyeye because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 14 2012 @ 10:46 PM
This is awesome!
Like the other replys said, it's nice to know that there are secret society's doing good.

posted on Feb, 16 2012 @ 04:32 AM
nice find keep going verry intresting

posted on Feb, 16 2012 @ 03:46 PM
This is awesome.
Sure they are breaking the law, but their intent is definably in the right place.

Even if they are caught what jury would punish them for restoring art?

posted on Feb, 16 2012 @ 10:15 PM
This is a clear case of responsible citizens taking back their nation's heritage when a corrupt and hypocritical government fails at its most basic duties. There are obviously few patriots working in France's public administrations, at least at the higher levels where the power lies. In a corrupt society, the rebels become guardians of tradition. Yes, it is an upside down world that needs to be overturned.


posted on Feb, 19 2012 @ 12:04 PM
Awesome find! I cannot wait to see what else can be found on UX or if there are other similar groups in other cities.

posted on Feb, 23 2012 @ 11:15 PM
that sounds cool as #, i want in

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