Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris

I had just finished listening to a podcast by “Haunted Places” called, “The Catacombs of Paris.”  In it, the narrator describes not only how the city of Paris sits on top of a massive grave, filled with more than 6 million dead bodies ~ but how one man got lost down there, in the “unregulated” part of the tunnels.  He videotaped his journey, & the video tape was found: but he wasn’t.  My heart was pounding by the end!  Ironically, my friend Megan called later that day, wondering if I wanted to visit the Catacombs on our upcoming trip to Paris.  And of course I did!  To have the best experience possible, here are my “Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris!”

“Many people don’t know that Paris sits on top of a massive grave.”

from the “Haunted Places” Podcast

Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

Ready to be creeped out?? This post is the closest thing to a Scooby Doo episode I’ve ever written ; )

Map of Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Eiffel Tower

The Louvre

Notre Dame

Quick Facts About Paris Catacombs

  • The Paris Catacombs are located in Paris’ 14th Arrondissement, in Montparnasse.  Address = 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris, France, 75014. 
  • Closest Metro Stop to Catacombs = Denfert-Rochereau. 
  • Opening Hours = 10AM-8PM, Tuesday-Sunday.  The Catacombs are CLOSED on Mondays, & the last admission is at 7:30PM (though I would spend at least an hour underground).
  • Entrance Fee = 13 Euros for Adults; 5 Euros for Kids (Under 18); & 29 Euros for the “Skip-the-Line” pass, which you MUST purchase online, in advance, & bring a printed copy of your ticket.
  • They only let 200 people in at a time into the Catacombs, & there were at least 200 people in line when we arrived at 2PM on a Wednesday.  Typical wait times can range from 30 minutes to two hours!  (The “Skip-the-Line” line had about 10 people in it, vs. 200+ in the regular line ~ the longest they waited was about 10 minutes). 
  • You need to be able to descend 130 stairs down into the catacombs, & climb 83 stairs to exit. 
  • The “regulated” part of the Catacombs (i.e. the part you’re allowed to visit) is 2 kilometers/1.2 miles long.  The journey took about an hour.  The “unregulated” parts of the Catacombs stretch for miles & miles, underneath nearly all of Paris ~ but they aren’t accessible to the public (& I can’t say I’d want to explore them)!  
  • It’s cool & damp down in the Catacombs (14 Celsius/57 Fahrenheit), so bring an extra layer & wear good shoes.  I was wearing a thin dress, & was VERY cold by the end of the tour. 
  • Another way to avoid the long wait times is to ARRIVE EARLY ~ like at 9:15AM, prior to opening time.  But, you’re still waiting ~ so if you really want to avoid the wait, purchase the “Skip-the-Line” ticket online here.

Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris

The first thing you need to decide when visiting the Catacombs is if you want to buy your ticket in advance ~ or show up & hope for the best.  It’s a 16 Euro difference between the two options, & the difference of an hour wait.  The decision is up to you: but keep in mind, if you purchase your ticket in advance, you MUST print them out!  We tried to “cheat,” & bought “Skip-the-Line” tickets while in line ~ & it sort of worked…until we got to the ticket turnstile.  Then, we couldn’t get through!  Eventually, the manager came over & let us in, after carefully examining our online “tickets.” 

To avoid this hassle: print your tickets out beforehand

Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

My friend Megan underground, in the first part of the Paris Catacomb tunnels.

Next: bring layers!  It was a warm, fall day when we entered the Catacombs, but it dropped about 15 degrees when we descended into the tunnels.  I was FREEZING by the end of our tour ~ so bring a jacket or extra layer to keep warm!

Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

Bring extra LAYERS to the Catacombs….it’s ALWAYS chilly down there!  This woman is dressed pretty much perfectly for a Catacomb visit.

Down in the Catacombs…

Now, let’s take a short tour through the Catacombs, which is the largest ossuary in the world: more than six million people are estimated to be buried down there!!  SIX. MILLION.  How & why did they end up down there, you may be wondering?  Well, the Catacombs weren’t originally a burial site: they were originally underground quarries used to build the city of Paris, as we know it today.  By the end of the 18th century, over 300 kilometers of tunnels had been built ~ & it was around this time that King Louis XIV decided to map the tunnels, & strengthen areas that were starting to collapse. 

Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

The Catacombs didn’t start out as a burial ground: they were originally built as an underground quarry, used to build the city of Paris (including buildings like the Louvre ).

During that same time, in the late 1700’s, the streets of Paris were absolutely filthy ~ in fact, dangerously so.  There was sewage in the streets, contaminated water, & the city’s many cemeteries were full to the point of overflowing.  Many of the dead had endured terrible diseases & contagious plagues, & because there was nowhere for them to go, eventually it was decided to move thousands of them underground, to keep disease from spreading further.

Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

The dead were eventually moved underground out of necessity: disease was spreading & the streets of Paris were filthy. There was literally nowhere else to put the dead: besides underground.

Definition of Ossuary = “A container or room where the bones of dead people are placed.”

The new system seemed to be working well, & in 1809, the Paris Catacombs were officially opened to the public ~ by appointment only.  Though the public can only view about a mile of them, it’s estimated that there are over 200 miles of labyrinthine tunnels that exist below the city….but nobody really knows for sure, at this point.

Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris, Girl Who Travels the World

Leg bones…??!

Video Footage of “Lost Man in Catacombs”

The only movie ever filmed in the Catacombs was the horror movie, “As Above, So Below.”  The footage below can be found on YouTube, & isn’t from the horror film ~ but allegedly from “real-life” footage of a man who got lost, by himself, in the tunnels.  SCARY stuff!!  Watch it, if you dare…

Tips for Visiting the Creepy Catacombs in Paris

 Before your visit, listen to the “Haunted Places” podcast on the Catacombs.  Then follow it up by watching YouTube clips of the “lost man in the Catacombs.”  It will definitely get you in the mood for a thrilling, underground adventure beneath the streets of Paris!

xoxo Noelia

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Tips for Visiting the Paris Catacombs, Girl Who Travels the World