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

4 Star Rating Could not recommend this more. Was absolutely fascinating! The audio guide is well worth getting! The one thing worth doing though is to pre-book your tickets. I went with my sister and we ended up waiting for over three hours in line. I definitely think it was worth the wait but would have been better to avoid this!

Ciara Kennedy - 22 days ago

3 Star Rating If, after reading this review, you want to visit the Catacombs of Paris, please buy your tickets online. The line is oppressively long. Okay, about the catacombs. Experiencing the catacombs was at the top of my list of things to see while I was in Paris. So maybe my expectations were set too high. In any event, the catacombs were underwhelming, only interesting for about five minutes. When I first saw the bones and skulls it was a powerful moment. The number of unfortunate souls piled in the catacombs is difficult to comprehend. I bought the audio tour, which definitely had interesting information. But it's easy to get ahead of or behind the narration. But I would still recommend getting the audio tour. It will add another (much needed) dimension to the experience. I don't recall the price, but it was reasonable. After five minutes of walking in the catacombs it quickly becomes (pardon my poor choice of words) been-there done-that. So if you simply want to check this off your Paris to-do list, by all means go. But if you have a lengthy list of things you want to experience in Paris, I would put this toward the bottom.

MJE - 27 days ago

4 Star Rating My wife and I greatly enjoyed the walk down and the visit to the Catacombs. (I would rate 5 stars if not for the long wait) Be prepared to wait for a long time to get the tickets. We waited for almost 2.5 hours during the peak time on Sunday!! Visitors who bought tickets online ahead of time do not have to wait that long (they get to go in before the people who haven't had the tickets). Apparently, only 200 people can be admitted at a time to the Catacombs. So, plan this visit wisely and don't repeat the mistake that we made :-(

Tso Chen - 1 month 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 - 2 months 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 - 3 months ago

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