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

Open Now: No

Hours 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

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 5

3 Star Rating Quite an interesting historical site. The wait times are appalling though. There is a very nice gift shop at the exit. They should build a waiting area. The staff laugh among themselves, smoke and completely ignore you while you wait and freeze. Audio guide was good and worth it but they should update their signs to help people select the audio track. You can share an audio guide too.

Dom Wolfram - 4 days ago

4 Star Rating One of my favorite activities on my recent trip to Paris. I didn't go the first time and regretted it so I made sure to purchase my tickets ahead of time on my next trip. It's a little more expensive to buy ahead and you have to purchase the audio guide but I think it was worth it to skip the line. I definitely learned a lot about the catacombs and their interesting history from the audio guide. The first half is mostly a mine and then you get to the actual area with the bones. All of us really enjoyed it, I would say it's a must do.

Matthew R - 4 days 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 - 9 days ago

5 Star Rating Such an amazing thing to see! It's not for the faint of heart! We spent about 3 hours exploring the catacombs and thoroughly enjoyed it. Try to get there before it opens and you can avoid some VERY long lines. Well worth the price of admission!

Jessica Jacobs - 16 days ago

5 Star Rating 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. If my review and photos were helpful for you, please give me a thumbs up 👍🏼 Thanks!

Sam Saltwell - 1 month ago

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