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
Official Website: Catacombs of ParisFee: Yes
Some attractions may have reduced hours or be closed due to COVID-19. Please verify opening hours with the attraction before visiting.
- Tuesday: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
- Wednesday: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
- Thursday: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
- Friday: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
- Saturday: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
- Sunday: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
Category: Local Flavor Museums Landmarks & Historical Buildings
1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy
Phone: +33 1 43 22 47 63
Karla D. Jan-06-2020
Wow this is definitely a once in a lifetime, must do/must see visit while in Paris. Had we missed it I would have totally been bummed. I just can't even... Read More
Megan K. Dec-20-2019
We took a private, skip the line tour, and I would not recommend it more. Our guide, Michelle, was amazing. She was funny when it was appropriate and... Read More
Amanda W. Mar-25-2020
What a cool, unique experience - right in the middle of Paris! This is definitely a history buffs dream come true. It's about an hour long if you don't stop... Read More
Accommodations near 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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