Catacombs of Paris: Tickets and Tours, History & interesting facts. Video

Catacombs of Paris: Tickets and Tours, History & interesting facts. Video

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Tips for tourists when visiting Paris catacombs

Paris catacombs tour


The location of the Paris Catacombs is 1 Avenue Colonel Henri Roll-Tangy, 75014 Paris, France. To get here, use the Paris Denfert-Rochereau metro station or the Paris RER B Denfert-Rochereau stop; the Paris bus lines 38 and 68 also stop at the entrance to the catacombs.

If you are driving, you can park on Boulevard Saint-Jacques. The catacombs are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00. The entrance fee is about 12 euros for adults, children under 14 years are free.

Be sure to wear warm clothes when you visit the catacombs, as the temperature in the tunnels is almost always cold, around 15°C.

It is ideal to visit the catacombs early in the day, on weekdays, because there are the least number of people at this time.


Although there are no guards in the catacombs, you cannot touch the bones. Most importantly, do not try to steal by any means (it is not only illegal, but immoral). The guards at the exit check every visitor meticulously, and sometimes you can see a few bones on a nearby table taken from tourists' bags.

The floor is dusty/moist in some areas. So you'd better not wear your best pair of shoes from the checkroom. Also, some of the ceilings in the aisles are quite low, if you are a tall person, watch out for hitting your head.

When you finish your tour, you will find that you have exited to a completely different neighborhood, this can be a bit disorienting. The nearest subway station from the exit is Mouton Duvernet. To get there, turn right from the exit of the catacombs, walk a couple of blocks until you reach Avenue du General Leclerc, turn right and keep walking until you see the entrance to the metro.

 

A Tourist Guide to the Paris Catacombs

 

The Paris catacombs attract tourists from all over the world, inviting them to see the underground side of this beautiful city.

 

This tourist attraction, officially called the ossuary of Denfert-Rochereau or, more commonly, the Paris Catacombs, we recommend it to anyone looking for an original experience and a visit should definitely be included in your tour of Paris. Here is what you will see when you visit the Paris Catacombs.

Paris catacombs entrance


 

There are many historical treasures here.

 

Originally, the catacombs were not a worldwide attraction, although they were first opened to tourists (according to prior records) in 1809. Before the French Revolution, the Catacombs were actively used for burials to prevent the spread of disease, which risked spreading to Paris due to overcrowded cemeteries in the 1700s. So the authorities decided to move the remains underground - far underground.

 

Then, during the French Revolution, execution victims and others were buried right there, including famous leaders such as Robespierre, Lavoisier, and Danton, who were beheaded in 1794. The remains of some 6 million Parisians are buried in the underground cemeteries, the names of many of them lost to modern times.

 

The Paris Catacombs were first known as the Paris Municipal Ossuary, but they were renamed because of the popularity of the Roman Catacombs previously open to the public.

 

 

Here is what you can see in each section of the Paris Catacombs.

 

You can buy tickets to the Paris Catacombs without queuing to go down to the darkest part of the city. Many tourists when they first visit the catacombs are overly excited to see the walls stacked with human skulls. Not all of them expect to see many reservoirs, crypts and vaults.

 

Below we present a detailed guide to the different sectors of the underground labyrinths of the Paris Catacombs so you can roughly imagine what you will see in each part of the exhibit.

visit paris catacombs


 

Stairs in the Paris underground tunnels

 

The first part of the exhibit welcomes you with a spiral staircase descending underground, with triangular steps and walls that get wetter the lower you descend. It's similar to descending a tower. but it's safe enough - there are handrails to hold on to at every step. The main thing is to take your time.

 When you come down the stairs, you will pass through several narrow corridors. Already here you can feel the mystery of the tunnels under Paris. However, you do not need to worry - there will be other members of the tour group beside you.

 

The entrance to the first section of the catacombs

 The walls and the ground will remind you of a cave. You may find it hard to believe that you are still in Paris, one of the richest and most beautiful capitals of the world.

 In the first part of the Catacombs there is an exhibition showing its history with images on the walls and text panels translated into different languages. After that you walk through several more tunnels. In some places, the ceiling height can be quite low, so tall visitors should save their heads!

 On the walls you can see many markings made in the days when the catacombs were used as quarries. These marks were made so that workers wouldn't accidentally get lost on their way through the tunnels. Tourists do not have to worry about getting lost, as there are guards and many passages are blocked by doors.

Paris underground catacombs


 

Port Mahon Corridor

 During the tour you will pass through the corridor of Port Mahon, where you can see the beautiful sculptures built by a French stonemason named François Decure.

 Once inside, you will come face to face with a beautiful replica of Port Mahon Fortress on the island of Menorca created by Decure. He sculpted it from memory, as he was once imprisoned. This work of art is known as the Bosejour sculpture.

The Stonecutter's Path 

After walking through the corridor of Port Mahon you will see the part of the catacombs that resembles a wishing well. This is the Stonecutter's Path, which in the early days was used by the stonecutters who worked in the Catacombs. Here they obtained water to mix with the cement and washed up after their day's work was done.

 

After exploring this first part of the Catacombs, you will go on to one of the largest rooms filled with skulls, with plaques, tombs and altars in memory of the dead.

Paris catacombs skip the line


To the Ossuary.

 

A sign with a spectacular inscription in French, "Stop - this is the empire of death," will be waiting for you at the entrance to the ossuary.

 Many people get creepy at the sight of all these skulls piled high and wide. After all, these bones were part of history and were once linked to real Parisians who had their own lives and secret stories. If you are a connoisseur of crypts of Paris, you will definitely like this place.

 In this room you can see a lamp that used to be lit with oil, which signaled to the workers in the catacombs that there was oxygen in the air and you could continue working. When this "funeral lamp" stopped burning, the workers had to leave the Catacombs. For the current attraction, there is no such problem, since the Paris tunnels have a large number of ventilation holes.


 In Ossuary you will also see the Samaritan's fountain, a spring and Gilbert's tomb, on which a poetic poem in French is written. But what often draws tourists' attention is the part of the Kostnica - the barrel-shaped column of ankle bones and skulls - the Crypt of Passion.

Exit from the catacombs.

 Remember the stairway down to the underworld of Paris at the beginning of our story? Surprisingly for the tourist, all the narrow corridors and sections of the Catacombs lead him a little closer to the surface all the time.

 So you only have to climb 112 steps to get to the surface, which is a little faster than the descent. You will exit to Paris via the gift store. 

Do not go alone.

 The Paris Catacombs are best descended with a large group. This attraction is popular with visitors, so of course you can go alone, but visiting with acquaintances makes the place much more interesting. Invite your friends and family with you to socialize. After all, it's still all the cheeks of love.

Take advantage of a professional guide to make this underground excursion even better. I especially recommend choosing a guided tour of the Paris Catacombs to help you learn the history and secret meaning of everything you see below. Many tourists who go underground without a tour see a really fascinating sight, but miss many historical and mysterious stories.

 Several staff members are in the rooms of the catacombs. However, their main job is to guard the bones, so they won't answer all your questions. There is just too much to see here.

Special access to places in the Parisian catacombs that are closed to the general public.

With a professional guide you can get VIP access to the more ancient Catacombs loci, which are closed to the general public due to dilapidation. One of the places you can see with a guide is the Church of the Innocents, the oldest part of the Catacombs containing the oldest burials.

Some of the previously mentioned sites are restricted to guided access only. Tourists are allowed to visit them in a group and under the guidance of a guide. These areas include the Bosejour Sculpture and the Stonecutter's Path. There is a bathtub that is too high to reach even with a tour group. But those who are interested can look at it from afar. Many of the sites have already suffered considerable damage from the masses of people who have visited them in the past, so there are strict preservation rules that must be followed in certain sections of the labyrinths, and they can only be viewed if accompanied by a professional guide.

best Paris catacombs tour


 

Paris catacombs size

Paris is the great medieval city of Europe. Like Rome, it has long underground passages and quarries called catacombs. Researchers believe this labyrinth of tunnels may cover about 800 hectares -- that's almost 2,000 acres -- under the city, but only a small portion has been explored and is open to the public.

History of Catacombs

The Catacombs of Paris is a network of winding underground tunnels and man-made caves beneath Paris. The total length according to various sources - from 187 to 300 kilometers. Since the end of the XVIII century in the catacombs rests the remains of nearly six million people.

Most of the stone quarries in Paris were on the left bank of the Seine, but in the tenth century, the population moved to the right bank, near the old city of the Merovingian period. Stone was initially quarried by open-cut mining, but by the end of the 10th century supplies were in short supply.

 

The first underground limestone mines were under the territory of today's Luxembourg Gardens, when Louis XI donated the land of the castle of Vovert for limestone cutting. New mines began to open farther and farther away from the center of the city - these are the areas of the present hospital of the Val de Grasse, the streets of Gobelin, Saint-Jacques, Vaugirard, Saint-Germain-de-Pré. In 1259 the monks of a nearby monastery adapted the caves as wine cellars and continued underground mining.

Paris underground tour


The expansion of the residential part of Paris during the Renaissance and later - under Louis XIV - led to the fact that by the XVII century the land above the quarries were already in the city limits, and a large part of residential areas actually "hangs" over the precipice. The most dangerous places were the "suburb of Saint Victor" (from the eastern edge of the Rue des Echol south to Joffroy Saint-Hilaire), Rue Saint-Jacques, and finally the suburb (then a small town near the castle) Saint-Germain-de-Pré.

 

In April 1777, King Louis XVI issued a decree creating the General Inspectorate of Quarries, which still exists today. Over a period of more than 200 years, the Inspectorate has done a tremendous amount of work in creating fortification structures that could delay or even entirely prevent the gradual collapse of the underground. The problem of strengthening dangerous sections of the underground network is solved in a single, low-cost way - the entire underground space is filled with concrete. Concreting has led to the disappearance of such historic monuments as the gypsum quarries in the north of Paris. Still, concreting is a temporary measure, because the underground waters of the Seine will sooner or later find their way elsewhere.

 


City of the Dead

The catacombs of Paris originate in the limestone quarries located on the outskirts of the city. This natural resource has been used since Roman times and provided building materials for the buildings of the city, and also contributed to the growth and expansion of the city, in place with the city, the mines were also expanded. After the second half of the 18th century, however, the former limestone mines were turned into a mass grave.

By the 18th century, Parisian cemeteries had become overcrowded, causing improper burials, open graves, and excavated corpses. Of course, people living near such places began to complain about the strong stench of decomposing flesh and the spread of disease from the cemeteries.

In 1763 Louis XV issued a decree forbidding all burials in the capital. However, the Church did not want to disturb or move the cemeteries and opposed the decree. As a result, nothing was done. The situation persisted until 1780, when a very long period of spring rain caused the wall separating the cemetery from the residences to collapse. Rotting corpses, bones, and miscellaneous filth filled the cellars of the residential buildings, corpses decomposing right under the noses of the residents. The French authorities were forced to take action.

In 1786, the former quarries near Paris were blessed and consecrated, turning them into the Paris Catacombs. It took two years for all the bones from the cemeteries to be transferred to the catacombs. In the following decades the bones of the dead were removed from the cemeteries around Paris for reburial in the catacombs. In addition, the practice of burying newborns directly in the catacombs began after the French Revolution.

It was not until 1859 that the final transfer of the bones was made during the renovation of Paris by Georges-Euen Hosmann, and the work was finally completed in 1860. Seven years later, the catacombs were opened to the public. In total the catacombs reach more than 300 kilometers, but only 2.5 kilometers are available for visits. Although the Paris Catacombs are still open to the general public, access is limited to only a small part of the network. Since 1955 it was forbidden to visit other parts of the catacombs.


Nevertheless, in the 1970s and '80s the catacombs were illegally explored by Parisian urban explorers known as the Cataphiles probably the equivalent of our Diggers. Some of the caves have even been restored and turned into resting places. For example, one of these underground caves was turned into a secret theater with a giant movie screen, projection equipment, and seating. A neighboring cave was converted into a fully functional bar and restaurant, perhaps where movie-goers could grab a snack or a meal.

Several secret tunnel entrances are scattered throughout the city. Many manholes also have access points to the catacombs. However, it is illegal to visit these areas without official permission. There is a special police unit whose job it is to prevent trespassing in the tunnel, and if one is caught, one can deal with heavy fines. Despite this, a fairly active subculture of "Cataphiles" (illegal explorers), many aware of the tunnel system, often hold parties and concerts in remote corners of the catacombs, which can only be found if you know the way. Rumor has it that artifacts from a number of wars and more can be found in the tunnels.

 

Missing in the Catacombs of Paris

The documentary, directed by Francis Friedland, included excerpts of video cameras taken in the vast and ancient Catacombs of Paris in the early 1990s by an unknown person whose camera had allegedly been discovered for years by an anonymous group of illegal tomb explorers. Those who found the camera, dusty and moldy but still intact, claimed that the contents of the tape inside were gruesome. Friedland's film shows how the unnamed explorer becomes more disoriented as he moves through tunnels of stone and human bones, illuminated only by the light of the camera. With each new turn in the underground maze, it soon becomes clear that the man doesn't know where he is--or how he will get back to the surface. The disturbing video has been a source of speculation and controversy for more than a decade and a half. As Friedland's documentary was first broadcast, the footage was discussed and analyzed on dozens of paranormal websites.

Although the true origin of the footage has yet to be confirmed, skeptics have called the video a fake, saying it is more likely that the video was shot by Friedland himself. But others claim some mysterious sounds can be heard on the tape after digital processing, and the mysterious markings later found by Friedland on the tunnel walls suggest that the man stumbled upon something he didn't expect to see...or something that really freaked him out.

Interestingly, although the camera operator's name is never given in the documentary, he himself is described as an experienced cataphile (digger), with a great knowledge of tunnels derived from historical maps and many previous expeditions. This raises the most urgent question in current discussions of the frame, why would such an experienced explorer suddenly panic, abandon his only visible source of light and run madly into total darkness, ensuring that he will likely never be found alive again?

The question remains unanswered today--and now it seems unlikely that the mystery will be solved. That is, of course, unless the person who really owns this camera shows up and tells his story...or his body is found, somewhere deep in the hellish maze of stone and bone. Below is the video footage found in the tunnel.

FAQ

Do you need tickets to the Paris Catacombs?

To enter the Paris Catacombs, you will need to pre-book your tickets online. Only 200 people may be in the catacombs at a time, so we recommend that you book your tickets in advance. You will receive confirmed tickets to your phone or email. Because of the popularity of the Paris Catacombs, there are almost always long lines of tourists near the entrance.

Is it possible to visit the catacombs in Paris for free?

No, but not far from the Paris catacombs there is another historical place - Montparnasse cemetery, located just a 5-minute walk away. There are 14 cemeteries in Paris itself, three of them - Pere Lachaise (to the east), Montmartre (to the north) and Montparnasse (to the south). These attractions attract a large number of tourists. All cemeteries are free to visit and entry is free.

Can you legally visit Paris catacombs?

Yes. About 1.5 kilometers of Paris catacombs are open to tourists. However, if you try to look at what the catacombs look like outside of the legal walking paths, and you risk not going back.

Are bodies still being placed in the Paris catacombs?

The remains of dozens of generations of Parisians were stored in these underground cemeteries, which make up most of the catacombs, to solve the problem of overcrowding in Parisian cemeteries in the late 18th century. The remains of more than 6 million people are buried in catacombs near Paris, France.

Is it cold in the Paris catacombs?

The temperature underground in the catacombs of Paris is about 57° F (14° C), which is much cooler than in Paris in the summer. For a tour of the Paris catacombs, bring a sweater or jacket to stay warm.

Does anyone live in the Parisian catacombs?

There are no living creatures in the catacombs, unless you believe the fantastic urban legends; however, according to city authorities, up to 300 Parisians sneak into the catacombs each week and enter through secret entrances.

What is the temperature in the Paris catacombs?

14 degrees.

The temperature in the catacombs regularly stays around 14 degrees, and it's almost always wet. Dress accordingly: warm clothes, a scarf and appropriate footwear. To get to the Paris Catacombs you can easily take the metro. Just get off at Denfert-Rochereau station and get off right at the entrance.

Are the catacombs in Paris worth a visit?

We are sure that the Paris catacombs are worth a visit. For centuries, these catacombs have intrigued and fascinated many citizens and visitors to the city. Today, they are a popular attraction and a monument to the history of Paris.

Which catacombs are better - Paris or Rome?

Both underground structures are sacred graves, but the Paris catacombs seem less sacred. The Roman catacombs are an absolute religious place, run by priests. If you plan to visit them, both men and women should wear clothes covering their knees and shoulders out of respect for custom.

Have the Paris catacombs been fully explored

Most of the labyrinths of the Paris catacombs remain unexplored. Specialists say that because of their huge size, the catacombs will never be fully explored. Many spaces of the labyrinths are blocked or difficult to access. In addition, special equipment and a professional team are required to study them.

Are the Paris Catacombs open today?

The Catacombs are open on July 14, August 15, November 1 and November 11. Closed on Mondays and some holidays: January 1, May 1 and December 25.

 

What days are the Paris Catacombs open?

Purchase your ticket online. Online booking is mandatory for all tickets.

Hours of operation. Tuesday through Sunday. 9:45 - 20:30. Last admission at 7:30 p.m.

Address. 1 av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy 75014 Paris.

Prices. 29€/ 27€ (audio guide included) 5€ (-18 years).

 

How much does it cost to enter the Paris Catacombs?

Below you can find ticket prices. At the entrance - tickets to the Paris Catacombs cost 14 € for adults and 12 € for youth aged 18 to 26. Online - tickets to Catacombs of Paris cost 29 € for adults and 5 € for youth under 18. Audio guides are included in the price.