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

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

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 out of 5Catacombs of Paris Star Rating

5 Star Rating If you're able to get there as soon as it opens, the line can get quite long... Or you can buy a skip the line pass - I totally recommend doing this. Now, this is not a location for those that can not do long distances or a lot of stairs. Or if you have problems with cramped quarters, some of the ceilings almost brushed my head and I'm 5'6". If you can, or are willing to still try then this is a must see. It is history in all it's startling intrique. The audio provides tidbits, and you can read up in sections leading to the main areas. Then you have the bones. Some are young, some are old, some have wounds and medical scars, you can see the bones diseases up close - but not too close. No touching. Another bonus, the metro stop is literally across the street.

JennaLyn Harms - 7 days ago

5 Star Rating Top tips... Get there about half hour before it opens in the morning, or go there around 6pm to reduce the queue wait. We waited about half hour which was OK. If you have to go outside of those times, buy a queue jump ticket, although consider that you will still probably be waiting about an hour Get the audio experience. If you don't, you will pretty much be looking at what seems to be the same thing through the whole walk. You don't need boots or warm clothing etc. If you're 6ft or taller, you will need to watch your head in places. Take a torch if you want to see down the closed off paths. Ask the people in the ticket office about any cool or scary stories... They have some great things to say. I won't ruin it for you. We paid 17 euros I think to get in and we enjoyed it. I'd say its a do once and never again experience but, nonetheless, it was enjoyable.

Jay Staniforth - 7 days ago

4 Star Rating This place was really interesting. I liked learning about the catacombs and the history. That being said, I would tell everyone to skip this if you can't get tickets ahead of time and have to wait more than an hour or so. It was cool, but waiting for several hours made it seem less great.

Sabrina Gell - 12 days ago

5 Star Rating A beautiful macabre place to visit! We bought the fast pass (includes audio guide) into the Catacombs which was definitely worth it since we bi-passed a huge line (always feels good). There are lots of the English tour guides going through so we got to learn even more just by shuffling along side them. I will say the tours get special areas to explore that the general passes don’t get. It is a tad cold once you get down the passage, so bring a coat. If you are scared of bugs don’t look too close to the skulls since they are crawling with them. Σ(-᷅_-᷄๑) DON’T STEAL BRO! Not cool! Very angry at the many graffiti and missing pieces! Such unique history should not be tampered with. Buy a skull somewhere else to bring home.

Alexandra Geesman - 1 month ago

5 Star Rating Absolutely fascinating place to visit. Such an interesting place to visit. I was not expecting anything quite like it. I expected to have to book tickets for it weeks in advance, but instead i was able to book an hour before visiting using Headout. Well worth buying the fast pass as the queue started round the block! The history of the catacombs, the general atmosphere down there, was something unlike anything i expected. Fascinating. I would insist anyone wishing to visit to invest some money in the audio guides as well as that made the visit even more stimulating.

Bryan Mestre - 1 month ago

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