Paris Catacombs tour

Paris Catacombs Tour | Discover a Unique Side to the City of Love

Paris is a city deeply rooted in history, art, culture, romance, and glamour. A few popular attractions that usually come to mind when we think of the City of Love are usually Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame de Paris, and more, but there is so much more to Paris than these popular monuments.

A creepy, eerie, and open graveyard located 20 meters under the streets of the city, the Paris Catacombs is your best bet if you’re looking for an offbeat, out-of-the-box experience to remember forever. The Catacombs are home to the remains and graves of over 6 million Parisians dating back to the 1700s. Learn more about this quirky attraction on a Paris Catacombs tour! Here’s what you should know.

Why Take a Paris Catacombs Guided Tour?

The Paris Catacombs may not be as popular as the Eiffel Tower or other tourist attractions in the city, but it offers a unique experience to those visiting the site. We’ve listed a few reasons why you should take a Paris Catacombs tour.

Paris Catacombs tours
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Paris catacombs tours
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What to Expect on a Paris Catacombs Guided Tour?

Entrance

Your experience will begin at an unassuming black gate at the Paris Catacombs entrance; it can be easily identified with long waiting lines. Meet your tour guide here who will take you to the starting point of the tour.

Underground Experience

On entering, you’ll go down 131 steps, about 20 meters under the streets of Paris, into a maze of narrow corridors, stone sculpture galleries and a museum, before you reach the main area. The entrance is signified by a warning carved into the door lintel that reads ‘Arrête! C’est ici L’empire de la Mort’, meaning ‘Stop! This is the empire of the dead.

Once inside the Catacombs, the first thing that visitors usually notice is a peculiar smell that lingers in the air. The smell has been described by some as a dusty scent that will remind you of old stone churches, but it can definitely be attributed to the contents of the Catacombs. 

While the number of skulls and bones on display is quite striking, what mostly leaves visitors gawking are the patterns in which the skeletal remains of millions of Parisians have been arranged. Skulls and femur bones can be found piled into towers, crosses and symmetrical patterns. These ornately designed ‘objects of curiosity’ are over 6-feet high and on all sides of the winding paths in the tunnels. 

Exit

The Catacombs’ entry and exit is carefully monitored to not allow more than 200 visitors inside the tunnels at any given time. This allows you to explore the Catacombs in peace and there’ll be times when you find yourself alone, sharing space with only the dead and not too many visitors around you. While the entry to the Catacombs is located on 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, visitors climb up about 112 steps and exit around 500 meters away at Rue Rémy Dumoncel. 

Highlights Covered on Your Paris Catacombs Tour

Paris Catacombs tours

Port-Mahon Corridor

The Port-Mahon Corridor is a replica of the Port Mahon Palace located in Menorca, Spain. Francois Decure, a French quarryman who was imprisoned at this palace in Spain when he was a soldier, sculpted it on a limestone wall by memory and later died on the same spot while working on an access stairway for visitors. The corridor is one of the most beautiful and fascinating sculptures on display inside the Paris Catacombs.

Paris Catacombs tours

The Ossuary

The Ossuary is one of the creepiest sections of the Catacombs because it contains the remains of over 6 million Parisians dating back to the 1700s. There are piles of skulls and bones arranged in symmetrical patterns along the entire stretch. You will also find the Barrel of Passion, where the remains of the deceased have been arranged or put on display in the shape of a barrel.

It is also spooky because of an entrance sign that bears a creepy inscription saying, “Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort”, which, in English, means, “Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead”. This inscription is the first thing you’ll notice when you enter the Catacombs Ossuary.

Paris Catacombs tours

The Quarryman’s Footpath

The Quarryman’s Footpath is hundreds of years old. It is named after the quarrymen, who used the footpath inside the Catacombs long before the graveyard had defined pathways, stairways, and tunnels. The quarrymen used this footpath to get water for construction purposes as well as to clean themselves up after finishing work for the day. Get a glimpse of different kinds of altars, tombs, plaques, as well as several skulls and bones arranged in symmetrical patterns.

Paris Catacombs tours

Underground Well

One of the most interesting points of attraction inside the Paris Catacombs is an underground well with water that is deep turquoise in colour. This well served as the source of water for the quarrymen, who worked inside the Catacombs. Surprisingly, the well still contains enough water despite being centuries old. 

Paris Catacombs tours

Entry Sign

One of the first things you notice before entering the Catacombs is the entry sign. The main Catacombs network is ominously marked to warn you of the macabre ambiance inside. The entrance to the ossuary bears a haunting inscription, saying, ‘Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort’ which can be translated to ‘Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead’.

Paris Catacombs tours

Barrel of Passion

Right in the (so-called) heart of the Catacombs lies the ironically-titled prime attraction, the Barrel of Passion. Located in the Crypt of Passion area, prepare to spot a symmetrical, barrel-shaped structure that is made entirely out of skulls and bones. Its size is massive, which can be seen clearly since it holds up the roof as a support system.

Visitor Tips

  • Make sure you book your tickets online and early on.
  • Wear comfortable shoes because you’ll have to do quite a bit of walking and climbing.
  • It is advisable to carry sweaters or warm clothes since the temperature below is lower than what you generally experience or are used to outside.
  • Photography is allowed but we wouldn’t recommend flash photography or using tripods.
  • Visit early morning or late evening to avoid huge crowds, preferably on weekdays.
  • The Paris Catacombs are not wheelchair accessible. The graveyard is narrow and dimly lit with no elevators.
  • You can take either a car, metro, RER, or bus to reach the location.

Frequently Asked Questions About Paris Catacombs Tours

Q. Are the Paris Catacombs tours available now?

A. Yes. You can pre-book your Paris Catacombs tour online now.

Q. Can I book a Paris Catacombs tour?

A. Yes. You can book a Paris Catacombs tour here.

Q. How do I book a Paris Catacombs tour?

A. You can book a Paris Catacombs tour online.

Q. How much does a Paris Catacombs cost?

A. A Paris Catacombs guided tour costs €119.90.

Q. What are the different types of Paris Catacombs tours?

A. There is only one type of Paris Catacombs guided tour available. This tour also includes a skip the line feature.

Q. What is included in the Paris Catacombs tours?

A. The Paris Catacombs tour includes a visit to attractions inside the graveyard like the Ossuary, Quarryman’s Footpath, Barrel of Passion, Port-Mahon Corridor, and Underground Well.

Q. In what languages are the Paris Catacombs tours available?

A. The Paris Catacombs guided tours are available in English.

Q. What does the Paris Catacombs tour cover?

A. The Paris Catacombs tour covers all major points of interest inside the Catacombs like the Ossuary, Port-Mahon Corridor, Underground Well, Barrel of Passion, and Quarryman’s Footpath.

Q. How many people can go on a Paris Catacombs tour?

A. The Paris Catacombs guided tour has a maximum capacity of 19 guests. However, you can upgrade your ticket to a semi-private tour for a more intimate experience as well as access to a few restricted areas of the graveyard.

Q. Is a Paris Catacombs tour worth it?

A. Yes. The Paris Catacombs tour is worth it because it is the best way to explore this eerie, complex, and spooky attraction. You gain more knowledge about the graveyard on a guided tour than by yourself.

Q. Do the Paris Catacombs tours include skip the line access?

A. Yes. The Paris Catacombs guided tours include skip the line access.

Q. Can I cancel a booked Paris Catacombs tour?

A. Yes. You can get a full refund on canceling your Paris Catacombs tour 72 hours before the scheduled date.

Q. How long is the Paris Catacombs tour?

A. The Paris Catacombs tour is 2 hours long.

Q. How many steps are at the Paris Catacombs?

A. There are 131 steps to go down to the Catacombs, and 112 to climb up towards the exit.

Q. Are there any discounted tickets for Paris Catacombs tours?

A. No. There are no discounted tickets for the Paris Catacombs tour.

Q. Who is allowed on a Paris Catacombs tour?

A. Individuals aged 14 and above can opt for a Paris Catacombs tour; children between ages 10 to 14 must be accompanied by an adult. 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.