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 4.3 out of 5

5 Star Rating The experience inside is extremely different. There is so much history to learn about these. It is reasonable to enter the Catacombs. You have the option to purchase and audio device to explain things inside your journey. Prepare to wait a while. We waited about 3 hours to enter, during the Easter holiday.

Frank O - 2 days ago

5 Star Rating Really awesome visit. I found it incredibly interesting and glad for once I got the interactive guided tour. I've never really used it before but it was really great to learn the history here. Just be prepared for the steps down and the long walk through the catacombs. You really go quite far. Also not for anyone that suffers from cloister phobia.

Ali j - 12 days ago

5 Star Rating Strongly recommend to buy the $27 euro ticket with audio tours online otherwise you are in for hours of waiting. - the plaques are in french so get a dictionary app. - the ceilings are quite low. - there are no washrooms inside and at the end when you exist. - there is 20m of winding stairs up and down. - it is much cooler inside. - audio guide provides context otherwise it's the same bones over again. - the tour is around 45 min to 1 hour. Cool experience and would recommend if you can't see the ones in Rome.

Lu W - 25 days ago

4 Star Rating Great tour experience. It was fascinating to walk around the catacombs at your own pace and learn about their history from the audio tour. Not cheap though. Definitely buy tickets online ahead of time so you can skip the line. We made the mistake of waiting in line for two hours because we thought everyone had already bought tickets. It would be great if someone could walk up and down the line making sure people with tickets don't wait so long.

Ian Mandt - 1 month ago

4 Star Rating Very cool and different experience. Prepare to wait in a long line. I definitely recommend purchasing the audio tour. I don't know if I would have fully enjoyed the tour without the audio guide. It was very insightful and totally worth the cost. Bring warm layers as it gets cold! Photos are welcomed but don't use your flash! Let's do our part to preserve this history.

Dawn Wagner - 2 months ago

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