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Catacombs Of Paris Overview

The Catacombs of Paris is known for being the largest underground ossuary in the world. The Catacombs has remains of more than 6 million people dating right from the 18th century. It is one of the most unusual yet fascinating places to visit in Paris. The size, build and the sheer intensity of the place brings about a whole different understanding of Paris.

Underneath the beautiful city of Paris lies a massive network of tunnels and chambers that covers at least 320 km. These tunnels and chambers were left by the several rock quarries that were on the outskirts of the City. As the City of Light grew these dark quarries were closed up and abandoned. These abandoned tunnels served as a base for clandestine operations during the French Revolution and became a hit for rave parties in the 90s. 

The Catacombs of Paris was created in the 18th century when the cemeteries in the city became a whole mess of graves over graves. The graves of millions of Parisians were exhumed and the skeletons were transported to the catacombs. Initially, the bones were just scattered and piled up in a haphazard manner. But this led to the ossuary being a complete mess too. So finally, these bones and skeletal remains were stacked in an organized manner, the way it is seen today. 

Once it was completed, this whole system created a mass curiosity and the Catacombs became famous overnight. Royalties started visiting the Catacombs to see the remarkable results. The place grew in popularity and in the late 18th century the Catacombs of Paris was opened for the public only to become one of the most sought after tourist attractions in Paris.

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Highlights

• The descent to the Catacombs is about 65 feet underground and it has a temperature of 14°C.
• Temporary exhibitions like The Dead of the French Revolution, Skeleton Story and Paris Palermo are regularly held at the Catacombs.
• There are several wells across the Paris Catacombs like The Well with its spiral staircase which is the remains of the very first geological drilling done in Paris.
• The Catacombs have several kinds of altars, plaques, tombs, skulls and bones arranged in different geometric patterns.
• The beautifully carved replica of Citadel de Mahon is something you must check out at Catacombs.Book Now To Enjoy The City Of Paris: Paris City Pass

How To Reach

By Train: The main entrance to the Paris Catacombs is located on Place Denfert-Rochereau which is a public square in the Montparnasse area. The nearest train station to the Paris Catacombs is Denfert - Rochereau. You can board an RER B service from any part of Paris to get here. 

By Bus: If you're taking the bus then route numbers 38, 68, 88 and 91 will take you to the nearest bus stop, Denfert-Rochereau. The entrance of the Catacombs of Paris is just a couple of minutes away.

By Metro: Metro lines 4 and 6 will take you to the nearest station, Denfert-Rochereau.

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Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Paris Catacombs during the day is either early in the morning or late in evening so that you can avoid crowds and long queues at the entrance. Since the weekends here tend to get busier than weekdays, it is highly recommended that you visit the Paris Catacombs during the weekdays. It is important to note that 200 visitors can enter the Catacombs at a time, so get there early if you want to reduce your waiting time.

The best time of the year to visit the Catacombs of Paris is during the off-season which is between October to May. Keep in mind that December, however, can get a little crowded because of the holiday season.

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Other Essential Information

  • Purchase tickets in Advance as it can get crowded at the Catacombs of Paris. 
  • If the tickets were purchased online, then make sure to print them as you will need to present a physical ticket to enter.
  • People with knee problems, back problems, claustrophobia, pregnant ladies or those with anxiety issues should avoid a tour of the Catacombs. 
  • The Paris Catacombs is not wheelchair accessible hence individuals with low mobility and those with cardiac issues are recommended not to visit the attraction. 
  • Children below the age of 14 should be accompanied by an adult. 
  • The temperature below ranges between 14°C to 16°C, so remember to carry a jacket.
  • Allow at least an hour to explore everything at the Catacombs. 
  • The Catacombs are a unique and unusual experience. The place is damp, dark and holds the human remains of over 6 million Parisians.

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Point of Interest for Catacombs Of Paris
The Barrel of Passion
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The Barrel of Passion

In one of the areas of the Catacombs of Paris is a section that is called the Crypt of Passion. Here, there is a barrel shaped stack of bones and skulls which was designed to look like Obelisk from the cartoon Asterisk and Obelisk. This particular display became famous from 1897 when an illegal concert held in the crypt was busted.

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Cross Roads with the Lower Catacombs
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Cross Roads with the Lower Catacombs

Some parts of the Paris Catacombs have two levels and you can reach the lower catacombs by using a support ramp. In one of these lower Catacombs there is a section where remains from the cemetery of Montparnasse have been brought. But unlike the Paris Catacombs neatly arranged sections this one has just piles of bones.

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Rendering of the Citadel de Mahon
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Rendering of the Citadel de Mahon

The Paris Catacombs sometimes have special exhibitions and one of the most fascinating ones is the beautifully carved Citadel de Mahon. A veteran of the French army, Decure, after spending some time in Menorca, carved a replica of the Citadel out of memory. When the sculptures were done he tried to build a staircase but the top fell and crushed him to death.

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The Well
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The Well

Inside the Paris Catacombs there is a spiral staircase that ends in a small well. This is said to be the site of the first geological drilling that was done in Paris. The water in this well is so clear that it is almost invisible. Besides this, there are many wells in different parts of the Catacombs.

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Catacombs Of Paris FAQs

How long does it take to visit the Paris Catacombs?

The section of the Paris Catacombs that is open to the public is a 1.5 kilometer long circuit. To cover all the points of interest, visitors should set aside at least an hour. There will be a lot of walking on rough and uneven floors so visitors should be prepared for this.

When were the Catacombs of Paris built?

The Catacombs of Paris was conceptualized at the end of the 18th century so that Parisians could have a better place to put the remains of their dead. By 1807, the Paris Catacombs were open to the public as a tourist attraction.

What is the best time of the day to visit the Catacombs of Paris?

The best time of the day to visit the Catacombs of Paris is early morning during opening time or late evening. There is usually a very long queue at the entrance hence to avoid this visit early or late. Try to avoid weekends if possible as it gets really crowded at this time.

What is the story behind the Catacombs of Paris?

The Catacombs of Paris was conceptualized when public health problems increased due to the overcrowding of the city's cemeteries. Hence, the human remains from these cemeteries were exhumed and shifted to the abandoned underground quarries in the outskirts of Paris.

Who is buried in the Paris Catacombs?

The Catacombs in Paris is the resting place of over 6 million Parisians that have been exhumed from various overcrowded cemeteries in Paris. However, in the beginning of the French Revolution many famous and infamous people were directly buried in the Catacombs. Some of these include Nicolas Fouquet, Colbert Rabelais, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Blaise Pascal and many of those who faced the guillotine.

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What are the other attractions in Paris that I can book via Thrillophilia?

Here are some of the top attractions in Paris you can book tickets for via Thrillophilia:

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Catacombs Of Paris Reviews

Traveller image gallery
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Bea
Reviewed: 22 Oct 2022
5.0/5
Great experience 
Bea
Bea
Bea
Bea
Bea
Bea
(7+)View All
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Linda Martin
Reviewed: 24 Jul 2023
5.0/5
Took my daughter and was surprised that I really enjoyed the excursion with audio guide. Very informative.
Linda Martin
Linda Martin
Linda Martin
Linda Martin
Linda Martin
Linda Martin
(5+)View All
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Concetta Abbate
Reviewed: 28 Jul 2023
5.0/5
Tremendously beautiful artwork. The audio guide provided great historical context to the tour. The stories were fascinating. The inscriptions on the wall are thoughtfully placed throughout the ossuary and make for amazing contemplative moments. There were visitors of all ages and from many countries... Read More
Concetta Abbate
Concetta Abbate
Concetta Abbate
Concetta Abbate
Concetta Abbate
Concetta Abbate
(4+)View All
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Jake Connolly
Reviewed: 15 Oct 2023
5.0/5
Would recommend! Thanks Thrillophilia
Jake Connolly
Jake Connolly
Jake Connolly
Jake Connolly
Jake Connolly
Jake Connolly
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Wendy Burke
Reviewed: 19 Sep 2023
4.0/5
This was such a sobering and interesting experience, the amount of bones from thousands of people is a bit sad that they were placed in such a way. I would highly recommend it as it is something that I have never experienced before.  I felt the two men who greeted people out the front  could have be... Read More
Wendy Burke
Wendy Burke
Wendy Burke
Wendy Burke
Wendy Burke
Wendy Burke
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Gretchen Setnan
Reviewed: 04 Oct 2023
5.0/5
We loved the catacombs. Easy to get tickets online. Got the audio to go with it. Highly recommend seeing this, I mean where else can you see something like this. Was truly a great experience and so interesting! 
Gretchen Setnan
Gretchen Setnan
Gretchen Setnan
Gretchen Setnan
Gretchen Setnan

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