A Guide to Underworld: the Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs, Paris, France

The Paris Catacombs are a subterranean labyrinth that stretches beneath the streets of Paris. This network of tunnels and chambers has fascinated visitors for centuries, and is a popular attraction for tourists seeking to explore the mysteries of the underworld. This article will take you on a journey through the Paris Catacombs, exploring its history, significance, and the unique experiences it offers.


The Paris Catacombs have a rich and intriguing history that spans back to the 18th century. In the late 1700s, Parisian cemeteries were overflowing and becoming a health hazard. The solution was to move the remains of over six million Parisians to the underground quarries that had been used to mine the limestone used to build the city. The bones were arranged in artistic patterns to create an ossuary, which was opened to the public in the early 1800s.

Over the years, the Paris Catacombs became a haven for thieves, smugglers, and the homeless, and were even used as a base of operations for the French Resistance during World War II. Today, the catacombs are a popular tourist attraction, drawing in millions of visitors each year.

Catacombs or Ossuary or Sepulcher,Paris, France vintage engraving. Old engraved illustration of catacombs,1890s.
Descending into the past: Exploring the eerie labyrinth of the Catacombes, a glimpse into the dark history of Paris

Exploring the Catacombs

Exploring the Paris Catacombs is a unique and unforgettable experience. Visitors enter the catacombs through a small entrance located in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. From there, they descend a narrow spiral staircase into the underground tunnels.

The tunnels themselves are dimly lit and can be disorienting, with many twists and turns that can lead visitors to dead ends. However, the catacombs are well-marked, and visitors are given a map to help them navigate the labyrinthine passages.

The ossuary is the main attraction of the Paris Catacombs, and visitors are greeted with the sight of thousands of bones arranged in patterns along the walls. The bones are arranged in artistic patterns, with skulls forming decorative borders and femurs and tibias creating geometric shapes.

The catacombs also contain several chambers and alcoves that visitors can explore. These spaces offer a glimpse into the daily life of Parisians in the 18th century, with displays of everyday objects and historical artifacts.

Paris Catacombes
Journeying into the underworld: A thrilling adventure through the shadowy tunnels of the Catacombs, uncovering secrets buried beneath the streets of Paris

Tips for Exploring the Catacombs

If you plan on exploring the Paris Catacombs, there are several things you should keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. The catacombs can be damp and chilly, so it’s important to dress appropriately.
  2. Bring a flashlight. While the catacombs are lit, some areas can be quite dark, and a flashlight can help you navigate.
  3. Follow the rules. Visitors are not allowed to touch or move any of the bones in the ossuary, and there are strict guidelines in place to ensure the safety of visitors.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings. The catacombs can be disorienting, so it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and not get lost.
  5. Consider a guided tour. While it is possible to explore the catacombs on your own, a guided tour can offer valuable insight into the history and significance of the ossuary, as well as ensure that you don’t get lost in the labyrinthine tunnels. Many tour companies offer skip-the-line tickets, which can save you hours of waiting in line to enter the catacombs.

It’s also important to note that the catacombs are not suitable for everyone. The tunnels can be narrow and cramped, with low ceilings and uneven terrain. If you have mobility issues or claustrophobia, it may be best to avoid the catacombs.

In addition, visitors should be aware that the catacombs are a fragile environment that requires careful preservation. Visitors are not allowed to bring food, drink, or backpacks into the catacombs, and flash photography is prohibited to prevent damage to the bones.

Catacombes de Paris
Preparing for the descent: Essential tips for a safe and unforgettable exploration of the Catacombs, from gear to etiquette

How to Buy Tickets

Buying tickets for the Paris Catacombs can be done in advance online or on-site at the entrance. However, it’s important to note that the catacombs can get very busy, with long lines and wait times, particularly during peak tourist season.

To avoid the lines and ensure entry, it’s recommended to purchase tickets in advance online. There are several official websites where you can purchase tickets, including the official website of the Paris Catacombs and the official website of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau.

When purchasing tickets, you will need to select a specific time slot for your visit. It’s important to arrive at the catacombs at least 10-15 minutes before your designated time slot to allow for time to get through security and any other entry procedures.

There are also various types of tickets available, including regular admission tickets and guided tour tickets. Prices may vary depending on the type of ticket and the time of year.

It’s important to note that tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable, so it’s important to carefully choose your visit date and time when purchasing your tickets.

In addition, visitors are required to bring a printed copy of their ticket or a digital copy on their phone for entry into the catacombs. Failure to do so may result in being denied entry.

Couple resting on sofa using smartphone enjoy online shopping
Don’t miss out on the chance to explore the eerie Catacombs

Exploring the Paris Catacombs is a unique and unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. From the intricately arranged bones of the ossuary to the labyrinthine tunnels that stretch beneath the streets of Paris, the catacombs offer a fascinating and eerie adventure for those who are brave enough to explore them.

While it’s important to keep safety in mind when visiting the catacombs, a well-planned trip can be a memorable and enlightening experience. So if you’re looking for a truly unique adventure on your next trip to Paris, be sure to add the Paris Catacombs to your itinerary.

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs
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The Paris Catacombs is an underground ossuary located beneath the city of Paris, France, containing the remains of more than six million people. The bones were transferred to the catacombs in the 18th and 19th centuries due to overcrowding in Paris cemeteries. Today, the Catacombs are a popular tourist attraction and offer visitors a glimpse into the history and culture of Paris
The Paris Catacombs is an underground ossuary located beneath the city of Paris, France, containing the remains of more than six million people. The bones were transferred to the catacombs in the 18th and 19th centuries due to overcrowding in Paris cemeteries. Today, the Catacombs are a popular tourist attraction and offer visitors a glimpse into the history and culture of Paris
Total Score
    8/10 Very good
    The architecture and design of the Catacombs are truly impressive. The underground tunnels and chambers are masterfully crafted, with careful attention paid to the placement and arrangement of the bones. The overall atmosphere is eerie and fascinating, making for a unique and memorable experience.
    8/10 Very good
    The historical significance of the Catacombs cannot be overstated. This site serves as a testament to the vast and rich history of Paris, and offers visitors a glimpse into a time when the city was struggling with overcrowding and disease. The bones themselves tell a powerful story about the past, and the Catacombs are a must-see destination for anyone interested in history
    6/10 Normal
    The Catacombs are generally accessible to most visitors, although it should be noted that the site involves a fair amount of walking and navigating uneven surfaces. Visitors with mobility issues may need to take extra precautions or consider alternative arrangements. That being said, the site is well-maintained and staff are on hand to assist visitors as needed.
    7/10 Good
    The Catacombs offer a unique and hauntingly beautiful view of Paris. The underground tunnels and chambers are both eerie and fascinating, and visitors will likely find themselves captivated by the sights and sounds of the site. While there are no traditional "views" to speak of, the overall atmosphere of the Catacombs is well worth the visit.
    7/10 Good
    The Catacombs are not primarily an entertainment or dining destination, and visitors should not expect to find extensive amenities or activities on site. That being said, there are a number of nearby restaurants and cafes, and the experience of exploring the Catacombs itself is entertaining in its own right.
    8/10 Very good
    Overall, the Paris Catacombs are a fascinating and unforgettable destination. From the architecture and design to the historical significance and views, there is truly something for everyone here. While accessibility may be an issue for some visitors, the site is generally well-maintained and staff are helpful and informative. All in all, the Catacombs offer a unique and hauntingly beautiful experience that is not to be missed.
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