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

Map of nearby accommodations: Booking.com

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 3.9 out of 5Catacombs of Paris Star Rating

5 Star Rating We were torn whether to visit because of the difference in reviews but are so glad we did. We purchased our tickets ahead of time and recommend you do so as there is a different line. Our family of 4 went in January and had to wait in line for only about 15 minutes. During that time we spoke to people in Paris who had never visited before due to the extensive lines in the nicer weather. If you go during a high season expect to wait hours, even with an advanced purchase. Note there is no shade while waiting either as the line wraps down the street.  We did not do a tour but opted for the audio. It was very informative however the numbers are hard to find once inside. It does give you a lot of information though and we were happy to have it.  I can see how this may be disturbing to younger children however it was my 13 year old daughters favorite part of the trip. She loved the history behind it and could find the art in the way the bones were displayed.  We spent a total of a couple hours inside and since it wasn’t that busy we were able to take our time and really listen to the audio and explore. Couple this Catacombs with a walk around St. Germain, grabbing lunch or dinner and it is a perfect day out!

Äbhay Raj - 6 days ago

3 Star Rating I personally wasn't that into the catacombs. If you're the kind of person that really digs the macabre, I guess this would be good, but really, the experience is pretty much just walking past stacks of bones for a half hour, with very little to distinguish each pile. There's also a very long line unless you buy advance tickets (much more expensive)-- we got there about five minutes before opening and waited 45 minutes in line before getting in.

Alexander Pinigis - 20 days ago

5 Star Rating It is a great place for a “romantic” date. Lots of history and human bones remains. Once you see the bones that’s pretty much it. All bones are the same. Walls and walls of bones. So after more bones, you’ll be greeted by more bones. Once is good enough and to maximise the value do opt for the audio guide so you learn more as you visit the place.

Kevin Lo - 27 days ago

5 Star Rating A lot of history, very amazing! We paid a little extra for a guided tour and to skip the line. Absolutely worth every penny. We arrived and the line was wrapped around the block. Our guide was full of information and we were able to see areas that are normally closed to the public.

Jenny Blocker - 1 month ago

3 Star Rating I went at 6:50 PM on October 19, 2018. I was able to get in by 7:15 PM so I barely made the cutoff time which is at 7:30 PM. Price is 13 euros for people over 27 and 11 euros for people under. Babies are free I think? So to start off, most of the tunnel that tourists gets to see is pretty much a.. stone tunnel. You'll eventually get to the skeletons and skulls, but it wasn't really much. To be honest, it did feel artificial especially with a heart shaped out using skulls and the pretty skeletons laid out for us to see. I know these are probably real and there are endless tunnels that goes roughly 200 mile's worth; something you wont see here. There is also an unused train track that has a entrance in the wall that can lead you to the more deep parts of the area. I wouldn't recommend it, but that's where it would feel more creepy/fun. It was a nice short experience, though. There is also a restroom at the way end of the catacombs once you make your wake up the stairs and into the gift shop, in case some are worried about that.

Tom P - 2 months ago

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