Diving in the heart of the Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris
- 1 avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris 14th
- Metro Denfert-Rochereau
- Opening hours: every day from 10am to 8.30pm, except Mondays and May 1st. Checkouts close at 7:30 pm.
More information on the Catacombs of Paris
Want to discover the underside of Paris? Enter his bowels for an unusual underground experience!
Paris, its must-see monuments, its classic tourist itinerary: you've done it! Do you want to discover your underwear, your secrets, even the ghosts of your past? Dive into the heart of its bowels, 20 metres underground, for an unusual visit: that of its Catacombs.
An original idea for a visit
The small entrance to the Catacombs is located in Place Denfert-Rochereau, a stone's throw from the metro. It is discreet, but well indicated. There is no risk of missing it: the small queue that runs along Rol-Tanguy Street points the way and reminds us of the obvious success of this tourist site that has been visited for two centuries. Because every year, more than 250,000 visitors try the adventure.
Notice to athletes! To reach the galleries that are 20 metres underground, you have to go down about 140 steps. Once down below, a temporary exhibition area tells the story of the Catacombs and the underground Paris, from the prehistoric times when the site was immersed under water.
This short introduction plunges visitors into the unusual world of the Catacombs. They're ready for the visit! On the way for 2 kilometers of journey, along galleries steeped in history. The path is marked with numbered inscriptions that testify to the different periods of work carried out during the centuries of exploitation of the basements. In total, it takes a little over 45 minutes of visit, but don't panic! The passage is wide, clean, lit, high ceiling and arrowed. The site staff guides visitors and answers their questions at all times.
Still, choose walking shoes over stiletto heels to better enjoy your visit!
The empire of death
After about twenty minutes of walking, the inscription "Stop! This is the empire of death", engraved on a lintel, marks the entrance to the ossuary of the Catacombs of Paris. The tone is set! This warning echoes the instructions read at the beginning of the visit: "not recommended for sensitive people and young children". Here you are warned... make way for thrills and macabre, because the Paris ossuary gathers the "overflow" of remains from the city's cemeteries, emptied in the 18th century in order to accommodate new tombs.
Over several hundred metres, stacked bones can be seen along the galleries. Skulls, tibias and other aligned femurs, classified by cemeteries, are offered to the curious, who came to admire this gloomy spectacle. One cannot help but think that before them, the greatest men of the time were rushing to visit this place. The path of the ossuary is punctuated by grim messages signed by the greatest writers of the time, carved in stone.
What to remember
More than an unusual visit, the crossing of the Catacombs - at least the small part open to the public - is a real dive into the heart of history. As we return to the exit, we think back to this disturbing, instructive and a little sporty immersion, with the feeling of having crossed a few centuries in less than an hour.
Note that if you are too hot during the long summer days, this descent into the basement of the capital is quite refreshing... underground, the ambient temperature is 14 degrees, and the humidity in the galleries will not make you regret taking a vest with you. And for lovers of souvenirs: be careful, it is forbidden to take a bone in your pocket!