Paris Catacombs

Visiting the Catacombs in Paris

Your Catacombs experience will begin at an unassuming black gate on 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy. This black gate, inevitably found with a long entrance queue, marks the entrance of the Catacombs network that is open for visitors.

Beat the queues by booking your skip the line tickets in advance.


Considering its position as one of the most visited attractions in Paris, the Catacombs usually have a long queue waiting to enter. And with only 200 visitors allowed inside at any given time, the wait only increases. On most days, the average visitor to the Catacombs will spend over an hour standing in the entrance line. One quick way to beat this queue is to book your tickets online in advance. On the day of your visit, you can skip the long ticket queue and head inside without spending over an hour standing and inching towards the entrance.

Once you’ve entered, 130 steps will take you over 20 metres below the streets of Paris into a maze of narrow corridors, stone sculpture galleries and a museum before you reach the Catacombs entrance. The entrance is signified by a warning carved into the door lintel that reads ‘Arrète!  C’est ici L’empire de la Mort’ (Stop! This is the empire of the dead).

Inside the Paris Catacombs

Once inside the Catacombs, the first thing that visitors usually notice is the 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 with it’s own flavour of underlying gloom that can only be attributed to the contents it holds. 

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 path that winds through the tunnels. 

Catacombs Entry and Exit

The Catacombs entry and exit are 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 no visitors around you. While the entry to the Catacombs is located on 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, visitors exit the tunnel network around 500 metres away at Rue Rémy Dumoncel. The trip through the tunnel is approximately 1.25 miles (2km). The exit to the Catacombs opens up in a nondescript residential alley next to a gift shop.

What to See in the Catacombs

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Port Mahon Sculpture 

 The Port Mahon Sculpture is an unusual and almost misplaced work of art. It is a stone sculpture replica of the Port Mahon Palace in Menorca, Spain. It was sculpted on the limestone wall from memory of the place by a quarry worker named Francois Décure who was once imprisoned there as a soldier for five years. He was later killed near the artwork while working on an access tunnel.

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Underground Well 

 Another famous attraction insider the Catacombs is a well with waters that are a deep turquoise in colour. The well originally functioned as a source of water for the quarrymen who worked there. It’s depth isn’t accurately known.

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Entry Sign 

The entry sign to the main Catacombs network is ominously marked to warn you of the macabre ambience inside. The entrance to the ossuary bears a haunting inscription, Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort which means ‘Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead’.

Select Your Tickets

Skip the Line Catacombs Tickets with Audioguide
Paris Catacombs Underground Tour
Skip the Line Paris Catacombs Tour with Special Access