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Catacombs of Paris

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The Catacombs of Paris were already created in the 18th century. Here you find the bones of many millions of Parisians arranged in the eerie passages of an ossuary. The queues can get very long here , especially on weekends or in summer, so book a skip-the-line ticket to avoid waiting times.
Miriam DewamBy Miriam Dewam
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Tickets

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Catacombs of Paris: Entry Ticket + Audio Guide
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Book a guided tour and learn even more about the catacombs of Paris.
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Paris Catacombs Skip-the-Line Guided Tour and Special Access
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Paris Catacombs: Skip-the-Line Special Access Tour
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Skip-the-Line: Paris Catacombs Tour with VIP Access to Restricted Areas
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Paris Catacombs Skip The Line Walking Guided Tour
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More Tickets & Tours

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Catacombs of Paris Semi-Private VIP Restricted Access Tour
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Skip-the-Line: Paris Catacombs Guided Tour with VIP Access
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Skip-the-Line Paris Catacombs Special Access Tour
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Catacombs of Paris: Semi-Private Guided Tour in English
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6 tips for visiting the Catacombs of Paris

The entrance to the Catacombs | Photo: Flickr, Joshua Veitch-Michaelis - CC-BY 2.0
1
Book the ticket onlineDuring high season, the wait at the ticket booths can last up to two hours. Due to the limited number of visitors, the tickets to the Catacombs are also limited and come with a timeslot. By buying an online ticket, you save yourself the queue! Regardless of the season, the Catacombs are a crowd favourite, which means the tickets sell out quickly, so you should book the tickets at least two to three weeks in advance.
Mounded skulls | Photo: Unsplash, Chelms Varthoumlien - CC-BY 2.0
2
Respect the rulesAlthough the Paris catacombs are a tourist attraction, it's important to remember that it is also a resting place. The bones should not be disturbed or even taken away. Photography is allowed for personal purposes, however, one should handle the permission with respect.
3
Wear appropriate footwear and clothingEven though the catacombs themselves are laid out at ground level, it doesn't hurt to wear shoes with a non-slip profile; the ground can be damp. In addition, there are 131 steps to descend into the catacombs and almost as many to climb back up. The average temperature is 14°C with high humidity. Therefore, due to the longer stay, it is recommended to bring a thin jacket or vest. Since the cash desk and entrance are located outdoors, you should also dress according to the weather!
4
Don't bring large luggageThe catacombs do not have luggage storage facilities. For security reasons, large items, including prams, are not allowed. Please note that bags must be worn in front of the body or in the hand.
5
Learn more on a guided tourWith a guided tour, you get priority entrance, learn more in a small group about the 2000 year old history of the catacombs, and get to places that are otherwise denied to visitors - including the secret chapel decorated with skulls and thigh bones!
6
Use the audio guideDuring your visit to the Paris catacombs, you will see a lot of bones, nevertheless along the tour there are only individual memorial tablets. The audio guide, which is available in four languages, offers many interesting background information on the different memorials and is included in the regular tickets. For children's tickets, the audio guide has to be purchased for a small extra charge.
Artfully arranged bones in the catacombs | Photo: Unsplash, Chelms Varthoumlien - CC-BY-SA 2.0

The Paris city of the dead

The one-time, underground mining plant of Paris has been offering visitors a gruesomely beautifully staged gallery of bones, which come from 150 Parisian cemeteries, since 1809. At that time, the catacombs in Paris were the largest necropolis in the world; the total number of remains is estimated at 6 million, the last bones followed in 1859.

The Quarry

In the Middle Ages, a winding network of mines and quarries at up to 35m (114.8ft) deep was created under Paris to extract the limestone deposits necessary for the city's construction. The mines were usually built by people who did not have the necessary knowledge or permits, which caused tunnels to collapse on a daily basis.

The Parisian graves

In contrast to other large cities, the graves, which were used for centuries as mass graves in several parishes simultaneously, were laid out in the centre of Paris. Due to the high death rate in the 17th and 18th centuries, the mass graves, like Les Innocents, were so overcrowded that adjacent cellar walls collapsed. To create space, the rest period of those buried was shortened, which however resulted in a state hazardous to health, due to the partially decomposed corpses.
Skull in the vault complex | Photo: Flickr, Laura Meyers - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Closing of graves

These precarious circumstances led King Louis XVI to order the transfer of hundreds of thousands of human remains to the former mines in the Paris district of Montrouge in 1785. To avoid a scandal, the macabre solution was carried out over 15 months by singing priests and acolytes in the form of a procession at night. Arriving at the quarries, the bones were thrown into a 20m (65.6ft) deep shaft on Avenue René-Coty. On the underground corridors, which were several hundred meters long, the remains were stacked up unsorted, making the assignment of the deceased impossible ever since. The Parisian parish cemeteries were closed, and it was henceforth forbidden to enter the catacombs.
A monument among the bones | Photo: Unsplash, Liam McGarry - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Redesign to a museum

When Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor in 1804, he appointed the General Inspector Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury to the bone storage. He was thrilled by Gothic literature, which led him to the idea of making the catacombs accessible to the public as a museum. Quarry inspector Héricart de Thury was commissioned to remodel the ossuary in 1810. Over several months, quarry workers meticulously stacked bones and skulls to create patterns, murals and collages, adorned with signs and crosses of the then graves.

The former use

Due to the constant temperatures and high humidity, the underground systems were used by beer brewers and mushroom growers until they finally had to make way for the construction of the Paris Metro in the 1900s. Concerts and events also took place here in the 19th century. The most famous visitors of the time included Austrian Emperor Charles X, the King of Sweden and Napoleon.

The Catafiles

Especially in the 80s, the Catafiles (French for Catacombs lovers) caused excitement by gaining unauthorized access to the underground labyrinths. Through secret entrances, they made their way into the tunnels and held illegal concerts and parties. The establishment of a special police unit was intended to deter illegal visitors from now on. In 2004, this unit discovered a generously set up cinema, which even had a dining area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the catacombs accessible for people with disabilities?

Due to the restricted underground location of the site, the museum is not accessible for people with disabilities. To get to the catacombs, 131 steps need to be descended and 112 steps ascended. The facility has toilets at the entry and exit. Read more.

What is the minimum age for the museum?

Guests of all ages are admitted, however, children under 14 years of age need to be accompanied by an adult. Read more.

Is it allowed to take food into the catacombs?

Please note that it is forbidden to bring food and beverages into the museum. Read more.

Is it allowed to carry bags and backpacks during the tour?

For security reasons, large bags and backpacks that exceed the dimensions of 40 x 30 x 20 cm, as well as other large items, are forbidden in the museum, it is also not allowed to enter the burial site with a motorcycle helmet. Small bags must be carried in front of the body or in the hand. The museum does not have storage facilities. Please note that strollers are not allowed, baby carriers may be used. Read more.

How much does the audio guide cost?

The audio guide is included in the regular adult tickets, but not in the children tickets. It is available in German, English, French and Spanish and can be rented on site for a small additional charge. Read more.

Is there a souvenir shop?

Near the exit there is a souvenir shop, which offers unique and unusual souvenirs about the catacombs. The shop also offers catacomb creations of local artists. Read more.

What should be considered when booking a ticket?

Tickets purchased online are only valid for the specified day and cannot be exchanged or refunded, nor can the date be changed. Please note that entry outside of the chosen time window cannot be guaranteed. The entrance to the catacombs is not in the same location as the exit. Read more.

Is it allowed to take fotos and videos?

Videos and photos may be taken for personal purposes without flash and tripod. However, please note that the catacombs are a place of rest and therefore respectful handling of photographs and videos is required. Read more.

General information

opening hours

The Catacombs of Paris are open every day from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. throughout the year. Please note that the last entry is at 7.30 p.m. The museum is closed on New Year's Day, May 1st and 25th of December.

tickets

Regular entrance tickets can be purchased at a price of 29 € per person and include an audioguide. Reduced rate is 23€. Child rate (5 to 17) is 10€, audioguide not included. Children under the age of 5 get in for free.

address

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

discounts

On-site, the children's rate for children between 5 and 17 years old is 10 €, an audio guide is not included in this rate. Young people aged 18 to 26, students, specialist teachers for youth protection, holders of the Pass Paris Seniors or Pass Paris Access, members of the Society for the History of French Art, the National Society of French Antiquaries, the Protection of French Art and the French Society for Archeology receive a discounted admission ticket at a price of 23 € including audio guide. Please note that appropriate identification must be provided.

how to get there

The nearest Metro and RER station is Denfert-Rochereau, which is served by lines 4 and 6 of the metro and line B of the RER. In addition, bus lines 38 and 68 operate. The nearest car park is located on Boulevard Saint-Jacques.
Miriam Dewam
Written byMiriam DewamMiriam is keen on traveling and has a passion for photography, which she can enhance through her cross-media studies. She uses her knowledge as well as first hand experience from diverse travels to help other travellers as a content creator at TicketLens.
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