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

Official Website: Catacombs of Paris

Fee: Yes

Regular Hours:
May differ on holidays

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 9:45 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Wednesday: 9:45 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Thursday: 9:45 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Friday: 9:45 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Saturday: 9:45 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Sunday: 9:45 AM – 8:30 PM

Address: 1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France

Official Website: Catacombs of Paris

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5Catacombs of Paris Star Rating

5 Star Rating Must explore! This place is awesome. Ordered tickets online one week in advance for a specific time . Recommend ordering ahead of time as there are limited tickets daily. Walk down a staircase several flights. Then start your one mile journey! You definitely cannot get lost as different corridors are blocked off. Lots of historic inscriptions. Femurs and skulls are clean and preserved. Really enjoyed the visit. A sacred place. Walking up at end of tunnel is not bad but it does spiral around just keep going! Highly recommend.

Margo - 26 days ago

5 Star Rating Awesome! This is a place where the dark tourist should explore. Fascinating history and very informative with the audio guide use. For those who wants to visit this place, highly recommended to buy the ticket in advance. Ticket open 1 week in advance.

Elton Hiew - 4 days ago

5 Star Rating We had a fantastic time visiting the Catacombs! Even though our time slot was fully booked we noticed that there was minimal wait times and you could explore on your own without fear of being close to others. The audio guides were a nice addition, with the entire walk through taking 1 hour to 1.5 hours depending on how fast you walk!

Paige Loffler - 23 days ago

5 Star Rating We visited in November. Very interestin place with lots of history about the city. Tickets were purchased in advance- highly recommend as it was sold out for the day by 10am. Dont bring backpacks or luggage or you will have to store it at a cost. There is bathrooms located in the lobby area once inside (couldnt find one while waiting outside) Recommend that you load google lens on your phone if you dont speak French so you can translate the plaques inside. Wear good shoes its a lot of walking because its below the city. Interesting experience for me. Definitely enjoyed this place.

melissa reis - 12 days ago

5 Star Rating Amazing experience. One of my highlights in Paris as it’s something different to museums and architecture. Fun for the whole family. It is quite a long walk with some stairs but don’t let this deter you. It is essential to book tickets and ticket booking opens a week before the time. Definitely worth it.

Laurence Behrens - 3 months ago

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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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