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

Catacombs of Paris Hours:
Opening 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

Catacombs of Paris Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating Very interesting audio tour. Took us about 45 minutes. Could have been a little more for the price. That being said, this is an absolutely amazing historical site. You barely notice that you’re almost 70 feet beneath the Paris streets. Once in a lifetime opportunity. It is well lit and pathways are not really claustrophobic.
EMB - a week ago

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5 Star Rating We visited the Catacombs and it was really interesting and informative. If you visit take the audio device. There are steps down and up from the Catacombs. Well worth a visit book in advance as it gets booked quite quickly as you can only buy tickets a week in advance. Not posting to many pictures as not to spoil your visit.
Derrick Lee - a month ago

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5 Star Rating This was a really interesting and harrowing tour. The initial walk through the tunnels is interesting and once you reach the grave site where the remains are it really is mind blowing to experience the gravity of how many people are displayed down here! The audio guide could have been a bit better, but overall an interesting way to spend the afternoon if you have a morbid curiosity. It is important that you pre-book this tour online, you can book up to 7 days ahead
Alice Coles - 2 months ago

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5 Star Rating A really special experience. I highly recommend it. No time limit, so you can stroll in your own pace. The audio guide was very interesting.
Sanna Sander - a month ago

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4 Star Rating Quite an interesting place, a small part of the catacombs is allocated for tourists, which are safe to walk through. Be prepared for a long descent and walking through the tunnel. In some places if you are tall you will have to walk bent. Although the place is quite interesting, it is overpriced. There are not too many points of interest to ask for such a price.
Sanan Yusibov - 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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