You’re planning on visiting Paris and you want to see the hidden parts of the city, the ones that are not displayed in the Chanel commercials or in “Emily in Paris”? We have just a suggestion.
Turns out that Paris is sitting on top of many tunnels: besides the metro, there is a network of old underground stone-pit galleries forming a maze under the heart of Paris, unknown to the thousands of tourists visiting the city of love every year.
These are the catacombs of Paris: besides being a major historical site harboring the remains of millions of Parisians since Roman times, are they worth the hype and the visit? Let us tell you all about it in this article!
What are the Paris catacombs?
During the 18th century, the city of Paris began suffering health problems due to the unsanitary conditions of Paris’s graveyards that were overflowing. The city thus took the decision to transfer its content underground.
The chosen site was of easy access: they were the old mining tunnels of la Tombe-Issoire, under the Montrouge plain. Disused since the 15th century, these tunnels were an 800 hectares maze under Paris.
Reinforced, the tunnels began to receive starting in 1785 the remains of millions of Parisians displaced out of the graveyards: some of them had been used for more than ten centuries!
The individual and mass graves were emptied at night, and the bones were organized in the tunnels. The setting of the Paris catacombs was part of a huge urban renovation initiative that took place over several decades in Paris.
The architecture of the big cemetery
The Paris catacombs are thus underground tunnels that hold the remains of more than 6 million people who lived in the Paris region throughout history. The tunnel systems are some of the largest in the world: be careful not to get lost!
The catacombs are filled with decorative displays of bones, as well as sinister historical plaques. However, the place has been transformed into a museum and monument through a decorative layout.
The Paris catacombs are also used as a pedagogical tool: they have hosted studies on mineralogy, medicine, literature and philosophy, botany, and even photography.
The Paris catacombs, a Parisian attraction
The catacombs have been open to the public since 1809 and have known a huge success: a register is open at the end of the visit to gather the visitors’ impressions, amongst whom are some aristocrats of the European nobility!
The modalities of the visits have been changing throughout history: as of today, the Paris catacombs are open to everyone without distinction and receive around 550 000 visitors per year.
It’s important to note that there is a big debate around the ethics of maintaining the Paris catacombs open to the public and in good shape: the city does a great effort at respecting the human remains and historical patrimony of the catacombs while encouraging the visitors to develop a reflection about life and death. Fun!
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Plan your visit
How to visit the catacombs?
Be careful and plan to go on a day that wouldn’t be too busy: this way you don’t have to stand in line for too long in the streets of the carrefour Denfert-Rochereau where traffic can get a little intense.
You can purchase your ticket on the official website, or through the Trazler website, thanks to which you can book your trip from Ireland to the Paris catacombs. The accessible website helps you book all the aspects of your trip with many advantages.
Also, take into consideration that the catacombs don’t have disabled access, and their exploration can be a bit adventurous, with the uneven floor and narrow passages.
To get to the catacombs, you can take the metro 4 and 6, or the RER B. There are also several buses stopping at the Denfert-Rochereau, which you can check on the RATP website for transportation in the Paris region.
Do we get the chills and thrills?
All of these 6 million skeletons have an incredible history and ghost stories tied to them: you’ll learn a lot about them as you journey through the tunnels.
If and when you travel to Paris, booking a visit to the Paris catacombs is a must! Of course, it is forbidden to touch any of the remains displayed, out of respect but also to avoid any curse that might be brought upon you…
And to visit the area a little bit more…
The Paris catacombs are located in the very lively neighborhood of Denfert-Rochereau in the 14ème arrondissement. Very close to the catacombs you can wander in the adorable rue Daguerre, full of very diverse shops.
Around fifteen minutes walking from the catacombs, you can get to the great neighborhood of Montparnasse, with its train station and its historic cafés which were hosting some of the greatest Parisian artists of the 20th century.
Then you can walk down the beautiful Rue de Rennes and get closer to the Paris city center. You can check out other articles on the Trazler website to get more ideas on what to visit in Paris!
Now you know everything about the Paris catacombs, where you can learn a lot about the history of Paris, as well as get the chills and thrills of this spooky adventure.
While planning a trip to Paris and to the catacombs, you can book all the details of your trip easily and avoid hassle as of today through Trazler’s website: plane and train tickets, car rentals, and accommodation at affordable prices.
We hope you get the best experience during your visit to the Paris catacombs and to Paris in general, and that you enjoy the wonderful historical tales the city has to offer !