How to visit the Paris Catacombs
Today I will be talking about the Paris Catacombs and tell you how to visit this unusual Parisian attractions. You’ve probably heard of it, however, it’s usually not a top priority for the people who come to visit the city of Paris. If you have some time to spare while in Paris, you should consider visiting the Paris Catacombs, because it is interesting, quite impressive and a little creepy. A good kind of creepy, don’t worry!
The bones of six millions of Parisians were moved to the underground tunnels of the City of Light. If you feel intrigued by this place, read on and find out how to visit the Paris Catacombs!
A short history lesson
You might be wondering what are the Paris Catacombs, so here’s a short history lesson. First of all, you need to know that the mines of Paris are centuries old, the stone from there used to be extracted for the construction of the buildings in Paris. These mines are pretty huge! However, only a section of it is open to the public.
During gallo-roman times, Paris was kind of small, the center of the city was the City Island. The people wanted the dead to be seperated from the living. So, the cemeteries were located on the outside of Paris. But, Paris got bigger very fast, so it ended up with cemeteries right in its middle.
The cimetière des Innocents, located near the Saint Eustache Church in Paris first district, was one of them. Over the years, it got crammed with dead bodies. There were so many, they couldn’t even bury all of them. Higiene and health issues forced the moving of the corpses from this infectious cemetery. During the end of the eighteenth century, all the bones and remains were moved to old quarries, which are now the Paris Catacombs.
But, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury, a French politician and scientifict, had the idea to organize the bones. The bones were placed in a beautiful manner, along with inscriptions on the walls that remind tombstones.
How to get there
This bones-filled labyrinth is located at 1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy. If you take either the metro line 4 or 6, it will get you to the Denfert-Rochereau metro station. You will find the Paris Catacombs a few steps away from the exit of the metro. It is open everyday, but on mondays, from 10 am to 8.30 pm.
A few tips to make sure you enjoy the Catacombs in the best conditions
In this part of the article, I will be sharing a few tips to make sure you enjoy the visit in the best conditions. For your safety and the well-being of the experience, some necessary precautions are to be taken.
- First, you need to know that the walk through the Paris Catacombs is two kilometers long, and the way can sometimes be a bit slippery and uneven. You will be walking for 45 minutes, so put on some practical shoes. Ladies need to forget about their heels for this kind of adventure, where comfort is key!
- Also, bring a jacket, because it can get a little cold underground. The temperature is constant at 14ºC, 57.2 ºF. Then, you should also know that you will only find some toilets at the end of the tour. So, make sure you use the bathroom before entering the Paris Catacombs.
- I strongly discourage the Paris Catacombs to people suffering from claustrophobia. You will be thirty meters underneath the ground, you will have to cross some narrow tunnels, so the claustrophobic might feel uncomfortable. The Catacombs are also not accessible for persons with reduced mobility.
- Since only 200 people are allowed inside at a time, you might have to wait for some time. So, the best you can do is to buy your tickets in advance. This presents some advantages: you will be able to enter directly, without queueing, and it includes an audioguide, this will cost 29 euros. If you rather buy the tickets on site, it will cost 13 euros for adults, 11 euros for people aged between 18 to 26 years olds, and 5 euros for the children. On site, if you want an audioguide, an extra five euros will be charged.
The reason why you will like it
During your visit through the Paris Catacombs, you need to be open-minded and embrace the experience. You will walk these alleys, and you will look at the remains of millions of Parisians who once walked the city you’re visiting. You will wonder about their identity, their families, their jobs, their lives, but you won’t know anything in particular about them. It will make you question yourself about your own life and deeds.
We are not eternal, but our legacy is. We are all flesh and bones, and we all die. No one is immortal, it is what we leave behind us that leaves on. These are the kind of thoughts I had during my visit of Paris Catacombs, and I am sure it will touch you somehow too.
You now know how to visit the Paris Catacombs! I think this article almost covers it. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it and that it has been useful! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information about anything.
I think that visiting the Paris Catacombs is a one-of-a-kind experience that needs to be done at least one, because you don’t get to see a human skull everyday!
Feel free to share your own thoughts and feelings, tell me how you’ve felt while in the Catacombs in the comments!
See you soon in Paris!