Catacombs of Paris

Inspite of being somewhat morbid, the Catacombs are a burial plot with a rich and fascinating history and draw crowds of visitors year round

Passage into the Catacombs of Paris
Passage into the Catacombs of Paris cc licensed photo by CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK

The Catacombs of France is a tourist attraction for those who like to add a little spookiness to their vacation activities. The catacombs are literally a burial plot of astronomic proportions. However, they are a burial plot with a rich and fascinating history.

Before Christianity came along, it was common practice to bury the dead outside the city walls. Christianity dictated that the dead should be buried in consecrated ground around churches and this time it was difficult to do so since the areas around the churches were already well built up and there was no space to put in large cemeteries. Those that were available soon became overcrowded and a mass burial plot was opened near the St. Opportune church. This burial plot caused a lot of sanitation problems but was still used even when the ground was saturated with human remains.

Eventually the inner city cemeteries were closed and new ones were opened outside the city limits. Even the long abandoned stone quarries outside the city were pressed into use as burial places. The transfer of the dead to these quarries started in 1786 and finished in 1788. The catacombs hold the remains of around six million people. Land was bought from a local property named "La maison de la Tombe Issoire" and many sets of bones were deposited in the underground caverns in this area along with crosses and urns and other memorabilia.

When you visit the catacombs you will travel down a staircase and then through a long tunnel to find yourself faced with a stone portal inscribed with the words Arrete! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort ('Halt! This is the Empire of the Dead'). It is beyond this stone portal that the tour truly begins. There are halls and walls of carefully arranged bones. Some of the bone arrangements are actually really artistic although they are macabre.

If you plan to visit the Catacombs then you will need to know that the site limits visitors to 200 at one time. There are also no toilets or cloakrooms and it is also good to keep in mind that it will be cooler in the underground passages. It is vital that children who are younger than 14 years of age are accompanied by at least one adult and the parents of young children are advised against bringing their children into the catacombs. If you are not very mobile then you may also want to consider other activities as there are many steps to go up and down. You do not need much time for the actual tour as it is only 2km long (around 45 min) but the queues can get rather long and entries can be stopped to ensure the 200 visitor limit is adhered to.

Nearby attractions: Rue Mouffetard Market

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: Yes

Currently Closed

Hours This Week:
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France

Phone: 01 43 22 47 63

Official Website: Catacombs of Paris

Directions

Metro / RER Line Nearest Station Walking Time
M4, M6, RER-BDenfert-Rochereau1 minute

How to get to Catacombs of Paris by Metro / RER

By Metro or RER: exit at Denfert-Rochereau‎ Station and look for the small green building (and probably a queue) directly across the street from the station.

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Reviews

Rated 4.1 out of 5Catacombs of Paris Star Rating

5 Star Rating We went on a Friday without pre purchasing tickets. We waited about an hour and 20 minutes, so we got in about 13h. We skipped the audio recording and walked by the crowd reading at the bottom of the stairs, to enter the catacomb. It wasn't packed, we got plenty of photos without other people in them. We also had plenty of opportunity to see things at our own pace. It was very cold though. We went on a February day that was around 8 degrees, but it was much colder inside. The stairs seem to go down forever. It was dizzying. I personally found the catacombs creepy and it made me feel claustrophobic, but my partner thoroughly enjoyed it.

E Smith - 3 days ago

5 Star Rating How to visit the catacombs with almost zero people in it. PRE-PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS AND PRINT THEM OUT!! This is very important. I bought my tickets online before I ever left America. The line forms early and gets long very quickly. Because we already had tickets we walked right by everyone at opening and went it. We skipped the audio recordings device to avoided that line also. Once we we passed the crowd we descended the stairs, which are man and steep. Not for weak of knees We were the first people of the day and we got to spend about an hour on our own. No one in our pictures, no one bumping into you. It was amazing. If I ever decide to visit again I will do it the exact same way. The catacombs are beautiful and experiencing them in silence and alone is one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

Shawna Rose - 27 days ago

5 Star Rating Very interesting place. Be aware of you are claustrophobic as some parts are quite small and not much lighting. Get there early. It's close to a train station which is good. Be prepared walking down all those stairs you have to walk them all the way back up haha. Definitely worth it!

Rez Phillips - 1 month ago

4 Star Rating Please buy tickets in advance before going. We arrived around 9.30am on a weekday and waited in the queue for over 3 hours. It’s was recommended as an attraction for family but I don’t think I would bring my children there. If you have older children and children that are brave enough and enjoys Harry Potter movies then definitely. The entrance and exit of the catacombs are different place so do have a map to get back.

Annette Goh - 1 month ago

4 Star Rating The Catacombs were so interesting! I recommended doing the audio-guided tour, as it gives you so much history and anecdotes while you walk through. The visit will be about 30-35 minutes. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and maybe a light sweater. I also recommend buying your tickets in advance. We didn't because we just winged our days in Paris. We ended up waiting about 4.5 hours, 1 of which consisted of torrential rain. Looking back, it wasn't so horrible. We made friends from other countries, so that was nice. I wouldn't say the wait was completely worth it, but it was definitely something amazing to see.

Monica Marroquin - 2 months ago

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