what are the paris catacombs?

The Paris Catacombs, officially known as "Les Catacombes de Paris," are a unique and mysterious underground ossuary located beneath the bustling streets of Paris, France. This underground labyrinth holds the remains of approximately six million people, making it one of the world's largest and most famous burial sites. The catacombs were created in the late 18th century when the city decided to consolidate its overflowing cemeteries and transfer the skeletal remains to these former limestone quarries beneath the city. Read the article from a WeGoTrip expert to find out what are the Paris catacombs?


What's so interesting about the Catacombs of Paris?

The Paris Catacombs are not just a burial place but a captivating and somewhat eerie journey into the city's history and the creative use of its underground spaces. As you descend into the catacombs, you'll walk through dimly lit tunnels lined with neatly arranged stacks of bones and skulls, creating an otherworldly and macabre atmosphere. There are inscriptions and plaques throughout the catacombs, providing historical context and reminders of the people who once lived and died in Paris. The experience is both a historical lesson and a unique exploration of the city's darker past.

How to visit

If you want to explore the underground world of the Paris Catacombs, you need to plan ahead. Visiting the catacombs is a highly sought-after but limited experience. Here’s how to make the most of your adventure:

  • Book your tickets
Purchase your tickets in advance online or at the Catacombs' official entrance. It's advisable to book ahead, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your preferred time slot. But don't worry if you forgot to do that — you can also purchase last minute entry tickets on our website.

  • Know your timing
Plan to arrive a bit early for your scheduled time to allow for security checks.

  • Plan your outfit in advance
The catacombs can be chilly, so dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes, as there are many stairs and uneven terrain.

  • Try self-guided tours
While it's possible to visit the catacombs on your own, self-guided tours are available and provide valuable insights into the history and significance of the site.

  • Take photos carefully
Photography is permitted in most areas of the catacombs, but the use of flash is not allowed. Be respectful when taking photos, as it is a solemn place.

  • Respect the rules
Remember that the catacombs are a burial site, and it's essential to maintain a respectful and quiet demeanor during your visit.

Why are the Catacombs so popular?

The Paris Catacombs are incredibly popular for several compelling reasons:

  • Historical significance
The Catacombs hold an important place in Paris's history, representing a creative solution to the city's overcrowded cemeteries in the 18th century. The transfer of millions of remains to these underground quarries showcases the city's unique approach to burial practices.

  • Unique experience
Visiting the Catacombs offers a one-of-a-kind underground adventure. It's a chance to explore the depths of Paris and witness the carefully arranged stacks of bones and skulls, creating a haunting yet captivating atmosphere.

  • Educational activity
The Catacombs provide insight into the cultural and historical evolution of Paris. Visitors can learn about the city's past, including the impact of disease outbreaks and urban development on burial practices.

  • Mysterious atmosphere
The dimly lit tunnels, labyrinthine passages, and macabre displays of bones and skulls contribute to the site's eerie and mysterious ambiance. It's an experience that appeals to those interested in the unconventional and the obscure.

How to get to the Paris Catacombs

The Paris Catacombs are located at 1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France. You can get there by various modes of transportation, such as:

  • Metro

Take Line 4 (the purple line) to Denfert-Rochereau station, which is a short walk from the Catacombs’ entrance. Look for the signs that say "Catacombes."

  • Bus

Several buses stop at Denfert-Rochereau, including 38, 68, and 88. Check the bus routes and timetables to find the best one for you.

  • RER Train

If you’re coming from outside the city or farther away, you can use the RER train system. Take RER Line B to Denfert-Rochereau station, which is also the Metro stop.

  • On foot

If you’re nearby or enjoy walking, you can stroll to the Catacombs. It’s in a central area of Paris, and you can see the sights of the city along the way. Make sure you have a map or GPS to guide you.

  • Taxi or Ride-Sharing

Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are easy to find in Paris. Just enter "Catacombes de Paris" as your destination, and your driver will take you straight to the entrance.

  • Bicycle

Paris has many bike lanes, and cycling to the Catacombs is an option if you have a bike. There are bike racks near the entrance where you can park.

Things to do near the Paris Catacombs

  • Montparnasse Cemetery
Located nearby, this cemetery is the final resting place of many notable figures, including Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. It's a peaceful place for a contemplative walk.

  • Denfert-Rochereau Square
The square above the Catacombs entrance is a pleasant spot to relax and have a coffee or meal in one of the nearby cafes.

  • The Paris Observatory
Just a short walk from the Catacombs, the Paris Observatory is a historic institution with a fascinating history in the field of astronomy. While visits are limited, it's worth checking for availability.

  • Luxembourg Gardens
A bit farther but still within walking distance, the Luxembourg Gardens offer beautifully landscaped gardens, fountains, and statues—a perfect place to unwind after your visit to the Catacombs.

  • Local Cafes and Bakeries
Explore the neighborhood around the Catacombs to discover charming local cafes and bakeries where you can savor traditional French pastries, coffee, and cuisine.

More fun things to do in Paris

  • 1
    How much are the Paris Catacombs tickets?
    • Adults: €29
    • Reduced rate for European Union residents aged 18-26: €23
    • Free admission for children and young people under 18 accompanied by an adult, disabled visitors, and job seekers.
  • 2
    How far down are the Paris Catacombs?
    The Paris Catacombs are located approximately 20 meters (about 65 feet) below the surface. Visitors descend a long spiral staircase to reach the underground tunnels and ossuary. Once inside, you'll navigate through a network of tunnels and chambers that wind their way through the former limestone quarries, where the skeletal remains are arranged.
  • 3
    Is the Paris Catacombs tour worth it?
    Yes, taking a tour of the Paris Catacombs is highly recommended. While it's possible to visit the Catacombs on your own, a guided tour enhances the experience significantly for several reasons:

    • Historical context
    Knowledgeable guides provide valuable insights into the history and significance of the Catacombs, offering a deeper understanding of its cultural and historical importance.

    • Navigation
    The Catacombs can be maze-like, and having a guide ensures you won't get lost in the underground tunnels.

    • Engaging experience
    Guides often share fascinating stories and anecdotes related to the site, making the visit more exciting and memorable.
  • 4
    Can you go to the catacombs without a tour?
    Yes, you can access the Paris Catacombs without a guided tour by purchasing a standard admission ticket. Many visitors choose this option to explore the Catacombs at their own pace.

    Remember that while guided tours offer a more informative and structured experience, independent exploration allows you the freedom to linger in areas of particular interest and take your time in this unique underground site. With WeGoTrip, you can get tickets that include a self-guided audio tour of the Catacombs. You'll experience this special attraction in an immersive way and learn about its significance and history.