Paris J’adore: Catacombs of Paris

On my last day in Paris, I went underground.

Aside from the splendor that Paris has to offer with its museums, churches and twinkling lights, it also offers something macabre. In the 18th century, while Paris was founding the Louvre Museum and building the Champs-Élysées, the church of Les Invalides and the Panthéon, its people were getting sick with infectious diseases emanating from its neglected cemeteries. As most of aboveground Paris was built using limestone extracted from its mines, the authorities launched an ambitious project to convert the abandoned quarries into an ossuary. Thus was born, from the bones of six million dead people, the Catacombs of Paris, the largest underground necropolis in the world. No wonder it has become a very popular attraction since its opening to the general public in 1867.

 

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Catacombs of Paris

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The popularity of the Catacombs of Paris was not something I accounted for when I planned my trip. So, I found myself at the end of a kilometer long queue and out in the freezing 4ºC/feels like -1ºC Parisian winter for almost two hours. It was such a relief when I finally entered the catacombs and experience its relatively comfortable 14ºC temperature.

 

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Catacombs of Paris

Fortunately, no skeletons jumped on me after descending the 130 steps to the catacombs.

Catacombs of Paris

But I found myself creeping down the dark tunnels slowly.




Catacombs of Paris

Eventually finding myself at junctions that gave the feeling that I was in some medieval dungeon… complete with a guard stationed at the end of the corridor.

Catacombs of Paris

And yes, the creeping about the tunnels would make you feel that someone is watching you.




Catacombs of Paris

Then the first skull greets you.

Catacombs of Paris

The first section with the bones is the part where tourists took photos the most.

Catacombs of Paris

Tout naît, tout passe, tout arrive au terme ignoré de son sort : à l’océan l’onde plaintive, aux vent la feuille fugitive, l’aurore au soir, l’homme à la mort. – Alphonse de Lamartine




Catacombs of Paris

Fountain of Lethe, renamed Fountain of the Samaritan. Discovered at the end of the 18th century by quarry workers and restored around 1810.

Catacombs of Paris

But eventually, people grow desensitized and just moved along.

Catacombs of Paris: Decide Before You Go:

On-site ticket rates:

  • Adults: 13 Euros
  • 4-17 year old: 5 Euros
  • Audio guide: 5 Euros

Online Tickets Rates:

  • Reduce your waiting time + audio guide: 19 Euros
  • 4-17 year old without audio guide: 5 Euros

Link to buy online tickets to the Catacombs of Paris: click here.




Additional notes:

  • Due to vandalism and theft of skulls in 2009, it is now forbidden to enter the Catacombs of Paris with suitcases and luggage. Only bags measuring 40x30cm are allowed.
  • Visitor numbers are restricted to 200 at any time. Admission may be delayed for a short time during busy periods.
  • There are 130 steps to go down and 83 steps back up to street level.

Address:

Catacombs of Paris
1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (place Denfert-Rochereau)
75014 Paris

Timetable:

From Tuesday till Sunday from 10 am till 8:30 pm
Last admission: 7:30 pm
Catacombs are open 14th July, 1st November and 11th November.
Closed every Mondays and certain holidays (1st May and 15th August)

 

January 4, 2017

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Jayce Cairo

Jayce is a linguaphile who speaks four languages and currently works as a translator to finance her various interests. Scoring very high on “Openness to Experience” on the Big Five Personality Test, she is an avid globetrotter who aspires to retire at 35 and travel for the rest of her life.

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