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 4.1 out of 5

5 Star Rating A truly amazing experience, where you walk among the bones of millions of Parisians which have been carefully stored in old quarry tunnels. To echo almost every review - make sure you order your tickets online beforehand, unless you are happy to queue for around 3 hours. They only let people in very gradually to ensure it never becomes busy underground (in fact my partner and I were often alone in whatever section of the tunnels we were exploring, but some of that will have been luck). I strongly recommend the audio guide which is an extra €5 and really helps illuminate the history of the place. Chances are you will never have seen anything like the catacombs in your life. If my review and photos were helpful for you, please give me a thumbs up 👍🏼 Thanks!

Sam Saltwell - 2 days ago

4 Star Rating It was a really good experience. Lots of history about the catacombs. There was some limited damage, probably because of the tourists touching the skulls even though they are expressly forbidden and the catacombs were not as big as I expected but all in all a very rewarding experience that I was very happy I did.

Leonidas Sig - 2 days ago

4 Star Rating You should definitely consider booking tickets prior to your visit. I visited the catacombs during it's peak hours and had to wait for 2hrs just to get in. The skeletons in the catacombs are the remains of the people who had to wait in long queues (just kidding). The catacombs is a overall a great place to visit. Take the audio guide if you're really interested to know about its history. Catacombs is neatly maintained, I'm sure the guy who has stacked the skulls and Bones was a pro in Tetris (just kidding again)

Akash Bushan - 11 days ago

4 Star Rating While on my trip to Paris, I managed to get into the Catacombs, which I've been wanting to do for a while! The catacombs are a set of deep underground tunnels serving as an ossuary to more than six million people's remains. The tunnels are sparsely lit and a little eerie, but quite safe and well guarded. Bones and skulls are nearly stacked in the front rows, but extend far back into the rock, providing space for an unfathomable number of bones. The atmosphere is quite peaceful and serene, despite the slight creep factor, and the audio guide gives a great overview of the history of the catacombs.  They do limit the number of people allowed in at a time, so I'd recommend to book ahead of time with a time slot as the queue can stretch quite far down the road and around the corner and through a park... I really enjoyed my visit and thought it was a brilliant attraction to see.

Bianca W - 26 days ago

4 Star Rating The Catacombs were so interesting! I recommended doing the audio-guided tour, as it gives you so much history and anecdotes as you walk through. The visit will be about 30-35 minutes. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and maybe a light sweater. I also recommend buying your tickets in advance. We didn't because we just winged our days in Paris. We ended up waiting about 4.5 hours, 1 of which consisted of torrential rain. Looking back, it wasn't so horrible. We made friends from other countries, so that was nice. I wouldn't say the wait was completely worth it, but it was definitely something amazing to see.

Monica Marroquin - 1 month ago

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