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After months of closure due to the global pandemic, the Paris Catacombs is set to reopen to the public on June 9 2021. This move comes with several public safety measures in place. If you plan to visit, please familiarize yourself with these new changes.
Here’s everything you need to know before planning your visit:
When one thinks of Paris, the first thought they might have is of the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, or the Seine River. However, buried deep under the glittering, culture-filled streets lies a dark mystery: a honeycomb of narrow tunnels that contain the mortal remains of the dead.
Back during the 1700s before the French Revolution, the city’s population increased dramatically -- a side-effect of which was the sudden lack of space to bury the dead. Cemeteries were overflowing, disease spread rapidly and authorities struggled to find sufficient space for burial grounds. The most logical solution then was to bury the dead under the city, and the Paris Catacombs were formed. It is said that the remains of about six million Parisians are buried in the Catacombs.
Today, the Paris Catacombs are one of the city’s most-visited -- and most macabre -- tourist attractions, garnering millions of visitors each other. Book your Paris Catacombs tickets and prepare for a tour unlike anything else you’ve tried before.
There are two primary Paris Catacombs tickets: general admission tickets, and skip the line tickets. Due to COVID-19, the general admission tickets are temporarily unavailable. To enter the Paris Catacombs, you would have to book your tickets online, in advance. The site permits only 200 guests at a time, so book your reservation accordingly. You will receive confirmed tickets on your phone.
Owing to its popularity, you’ll almost always find long waiting queues at the entrance. However, your Paris Catacombs tickets include skip-the-line access, allowing you to bypass the long waiting lines and head straight to security check; this way, you can save up to 3 hours of your time. You can additionally purchase an audio guide for €5 and choose between English, French, German and Spanish languages. These Paris Catacombs tickets cannot be canceled, amended or refunded.
Reduced rate: Young adults between ages 18-26, large families, those who have purchased the Paris Pass Famille and Navigo-Améthyste-Emeraude cards, librarians and school teachers, along with members of the National Society of Antiquaries of France, the French Society of Archeology, la Society of the History of French Art, and la Safeguard de l'Art Français, enjoy reduced admission rates on presentation of a valid government ID.
Free entry: Children under the age of 4, disabled persons and their companion, along with journalists, museum guides, job seekers, visual artists, and similar groups are offered free entry, on presentation of a valid ID.
Under the glitz and glamor of Paris lie a maze of tunnels, covering a stretch of almost 2 km, that hold the mortal remains of about 6 million Parisians -- some of whose identities will forever remain a mystery. The Paris Catacombs were created as the city’s answer to a pressing problem: a lack of space to bury the deceased. Construction for a massive maze of tunnels began back about 20 meters below the city. Several tombs and other burial grounds were emptied and the remains of bodies were exhumed. The Catacombs were then opened to the public in the early 1800s and have since been a major tourist attraction.
Guests have to climb down 131 steps to get to the underground tunnels. Once you head down, there’s an exhibition area that provides historical background and context to the Catacombs. From here, all guests move in a single direction across the 2 km stretch open to the public.
The architecture within the Paris Catacombs is simply awe-inspiring, despite its morbid requirement. Across walls, ceilings, and in stacks, guests will find skulls and bones set up and arranged in different display patterns. The most interesting one is the Barrel of Passion -- an arrangement of a rhythmic pattern of skulls and bones in the shape of a barrel. Keep an eye out for sections like the Port-Mahon Corridor, The Quarryman’s Footpath, and the Ossuary. The entire tour is so removed from what one would expect a Parisian experience to be, far away from the glittering lights and culture-soaked landmarks. Don't miss out on these exhibits:
The Port-Mahon Corridor is one of the first few parts of your Catacombs tour. Primarily on display you'll find beautiful sculptures by Francois Décure, a French quarryman. The most fascinating sculpture here is of Port Mahon, a fortress in Menorca, Spain. It is believed that Décure sculpted this from memory of when he was imprisoned by the British in the fortress.
The history of the quarryman's footpath goes back hundreds of years. Before the Catacombs had defined tunnels and pathways, the quarryman who worked there used the Footpath to access water for construction purposes and to clean themselves after a day's work. Here, you can also find several skull and bone arrangements as well, along with tombs, altars, plaques and more.
The Ossuary is definitely one of the most eerie, spookiest sections at the Catacombs; it is the final resting place for millions of Parisians. You'll see ceiling-high piles and piles of bones and skulls, arranged in symmetrical patterns, all along the stretch of this section. Here, you'll also find the macabre Barrel of Passion -- an arrangement of skeletal remains in the form of a ceiling-high barrel.
Towards the exit, you’ll need to climb up about 112 steps to get back to the surface.
Find more things to see at the Paris Catacombs here.
To cover the underground stretch of about 1.5 km, guests can expect to spend at least 45 minutes to an hour at the Paris Catacombs.
Yes. Buses 38 and 68 will get you to the Paris Catacombs. Once you alight at the Denfert-Rochereau station, the Catacombs are a 2-3 minute walking distance.
Yes, you can take both and alight at a common station, the Denfert-Rochereau. From here, the Catacombs are a mere 2-minute walk.
No, storage facility is not available at the Paris Catacombs. Large bags and suitcases are not permitted on site; please carry small backpacks or purses.
Yes. You can purchase an audio guide with your Paris Catacombs tickets, or directly at the site itself. They can be purchased for €5 and are available in English, French, German and Spanish.
No, the Paris Catacombs are not currently accessible by wheelchair as guests need to climb down about 131 steps and make their way through narrow, dimly-lit corridors.
Yes, photography is permitted. However, flash photography and the use of tripods is not permitted at the Paris Catacombs.
There are 131 steps to go down to the Catacombs and 112 steps to climb back up. Please be careful as the passageways are narrow, slippery and dimly lit.
Since the Paris Catacombs are underground, the temperature is likely several degrees cooler. You can carry a light jacket to keep warm and remember to wear comfortable shoes for the walk.
To ensure the safety of its visitors, the Paris Catacombs now accepts online reservations. Several safety measures and guidelines have also been enforced to ensure the safety of its visitors.
In light of COVID-19, multiple health and safety measures have been enforced. The Paris Catacombs now accepts online reservations. It is mandatory that visitors wear masks that cover their nose and face throughout their entire visit; hand sanitizers have also been placed at the entrance for public use. Group tours have also been suspended temporarily.
Yes. You can book your Paris Catacombs tickets online as they now accept digital reservations.
It depends on the Paris Catacombs ticket you choose to book. While some tickets offer a full refund on canceling tickets up to 48-72 hours in advance, for others there may be no refund available on cancelation. Please check before you make your reservation.
No. Group tours have been temporarily suspended at the Paris Catacombs.
Due to the site being entirely underground, there is currently no wheelchair accessibility at the Paris Catacombs.
Paris Catacombs opening hours post-COVID-19: between 10:00 AM to 08:30 PM (last entry at 07:30 PM) from Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays, 1 January, 1 May, and 25 December.
The attraction recommends that the following groups of people avoid visiting: those with a motor disability, pregnant women, individuals with claustrophobia or any respiratory or cardiac-related health issues, children under the age of 10.
The best time to visit the Paris Catacombs is during early morning hours and late evenings before closing to enjoy small crowds at the entrance.
200 guests are permitted at a time, per time slot, at the Paris Catacombs. Ensure that you pre-book your tickets online.
Visitors can enter from 1, Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (place Denfert-Rochereau)
There are 243 steps in total; 131 to go underground, and 112 to climb back up.
No, there’s no dress code. However, since you’ll be underground and temperatures will be lower, ensure to dress warmly.
Yes. You can book Paris Catacombs skip the line tickets online to save up to 3 hours of waiting time.