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 VisitFee: Yes
Open Now: NoHours This Week:
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Thursday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Friday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Saturday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Sunday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
Phone: 01 43 22 47 63
Official Website: Catacombs of Paris
|Metro / RER Line||Nearest Station||Walking Time|
|M4, M6, RER-B||Denfert-Rochereau||1 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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Ratedout of 5
We bought tickets on line saved hours of queueing but it cost €29 euros each versus €13 if you queue but it turns it from a whole day event into a couple of hour trip. Probably worth it given the money you've probably spent to get to Paris. The audio guide is good value and definitely important without the back story it's not as interesting. Like some of the other reviews it can get a bit repetitive, it is impressive, just lots of the same. It's well worth the trip just not worth giving up your whole day for unless you're here for a long time.
John Mckenzie - 10 days ago
A truly amazing experience, where you walk among the bones of millions of Parisians which have been carefully stored in old quarry tunnels. To echo almost every review - make sure you order your tickets online beforehand, unless you are happy to queue for around 3 hours. They only let people in very gradually to ensure it never becomes busy underground (in fact my partner and I were often alone in whatever section of the tunnels we were exploring, but some of that will have been luck). I strongly recommend the audio guide which is an extra €5 and really helps illuminate the history of the place. Chances are you will never have seen anything like the catacombs in your life.
Sam Saltwell - 30 days ago
Great hour long adventure under Paris and into history. For other reviews complaining about wait times, go ONLINE and buy tickets with a time and there literally is zero wait. Walk up, bag check, start heading down the stairs. Very eerie but fascinating insight into the bones/tombs and vast tunnels. Some arrangements of the bones are creative for sure. Worth going if you have a couple of hours to take out of your trip.
Peter Gregg - 1 month ago
Must buy ticket online before the day of. I waited thinking it wouldn't be that long as it wasn't wrapped around twice which reviews said was a 4 hour wait. I waited 4 hours and it was only 3/4 around the block. In comparison to the wait the experience in the catacombs is rather brief but around an hour. The audio guide was informative and provided extra context. It was a cool experience with lots of history. Would recommend if you have nothing else higher on your list of things to do in Paris.
Christy Mullen - 1 month ago
If, after reading this review, you want to visit the Catacombs of Paris, please buy your tickets online. The line is oppressively long. Okay, about the catacombs. Experiencing the catacombs was at the top of my list of things to see while I was in Paris. So maybe my expectations were set too high. In any event, the catacombs were underwhelming, only interesting for about five minutes. When I first saw the bones and skulls it was a powerful moment. The number of unfortunate souls piled in the catacombs is difficult to comprehend. I bought the audio tour, which definitely had interesting information. But it's easy to get ahead of or behind the narration. But I would still recommend getting the audio tour. It will add another (much needed) dimension to the experience. I don't recall the price, but it was reasonable. After five minutes of walking in the catacombs it quickly becomes (pardon my poor choice of words) been-there done-that. So if you simply want to check this off your Paris to-do list, by all means go. But if you have a lengthy list of things you want to experience in Paris, I would put this toward the bottom.
MJE - 2 months ago