The Catacombes de Paris. Here, the bones of Parisiens taken from cementaries at the 18C found their place. It is made up of many galleries or ways, you can only visit some of them.The visit is done at daytime with a guide on the best maintained galleries. Part of the visit is done amongst human bones! Entrance is at 1 avenue du Colonel Henri-Rol-Tanguy , Paris 14. You get here on the metro Denfert Rochereau lines 4 and 6 or RER Denfert Rochereau B; admission is 8€; webpage http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/ However, keep an eye on the site, as they are now close and no dates as when they will be available.
Update on the Catacombes !!! It is having problems and close to the public again. First it was the lights for the 2KM of galleries went out, last november, the ventilation system failed, and it was just put in there in 1995!. THe city has ordered tests of air quality for all visitors and employees. Last september it was some damage cranes holding the ceilings that made the place close too. Those problems still going on, and the question has been raised if the place need permanent closing!!!
At the end of the 18th century, as Paris began to expand, a problem developed: what to do with all the bodies that had been buried outside the city, now that the city was growing bigger. The solution: create a remarkable underground series of tunnels and chambers, and move the bodies from the cemeteries to these catacombs. From 1785 to 1850, approximately 6 million departed souls had their bones relocated. Today, they await visitors in what is an incredibly eerie tour below the city of light. The public visit takes you on a remarkable underground journey, but the public views only a small portion of this underground world.
l'ossuaire de Denfert-Rochereau
1, place Denfert-Rochereau, 75014 Paris
Closed Mondays & holidays. Open 9 AM to 4 PM Tuesday-Sunday.
Be sure to check out the sculpture of the lion at Place Denfert Rochereau-- it is by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, most noted for his Liberty Enlightening the World in New York Harbor.
The catacombs lie just to the South of Luxumburg Gardens on Place Denfert-Rochereau
We walked but you can take the metro if preferred (Metro - Denfert-Rochereau)
The tickets are not expensive. You enter here but remember - you EXIT a couple of hundred metres away from here in Rue Remy Dumoncel near Alesia metro station.
After decending the stairs you walk along some passages with steel doors each marked with dates and a few details......you think "Is that IT?"
No! You end-up in a circular chambre with a doorway into a dark passage-way. The fun starts here!
The walkway is lined with bones and skulls laid-out and arranged in perfect patterns showing huge respect for the owners and creating a very poignant and touching scene.
However, I thought the biggest impact it made on me was the illuminated area behind one of these bone-walls. There was a place where you could see behind into the vast caverns that were FULL of bones. Miles and miles of them.
The bones of 6 million parisiennes are in here and you only get to see and walk around a tiny part of the underground mine complex where the building stone of Paris was obtained-from.
Absolutely a must-see - once you have "done" the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Sacre Couer of course!
Beatchick does a great tips page on this - check it out!
Sorry I can't answer your question about metro entrances/exits..
However, I can tell you that when I visited the catacombs, many years ago, the guides didn't speak English. Maybe your French is great or maybe that have English-speaking guides etc. It may be an idea to check it out..
Also, if you unaware of it Mussourgsky, the Russian composer, wrote a wonderful piece about the catacombs. It's part of his 'Pictures at an Exhibition'. The solo piano version is really empathic with the place!
Anyway, enjoy yourself there!
I'd like to know if the guide-language thing has changed, if you wouldn't mind ...
Land of The Dead. When the cemetaries of Paris were full they dug up all the old bones and put them here. Very Weird place right under the city. After you pay your entrance fee you decend some stairs and then its a long walk underground on gravel to reach the bones, about 1/4 mile(not exaggerating) or longer it was hard to tell and it was kinda dark too. If you are claustraphobic this is not the place for you. It is an interesting place worth seeing, but make sure not to try and steal any bones, once you climb the 80 or so steps back to the top a security guard serches you to see if you have taken anything. Take the metro to the Denfert-Rochereau metro station, its the unassuming building across the street.
The catacombes are a fascinating and worthwhile experience for visitors to Paris. The entry for the catacombes in located in a very small, random building in Place Denfert-Rochereau. Unfortunately, the catacombes are not handicapped accessible, and I would not recommend this tour for anyone in ill health or with walking disabilities. To get to the catacombes you must descend a spiral staircase that goes deep underground. It's a very small area as well, so if you are clausterphobic, I would also not recommend this tour. You walk for about 10 minutes through narrow tunnels that have been used for hundreds of years. Once you reach the entryway, you are greeted with a sign that says "c'est empire de la mort" It's the empire of the dead.
Once you enter, the bones are at first shocking and then it becomes so overwhelming. I found the experience difficult because I viewed each skull with the thought of "this was somebody's husband or wife, son or daughter, mother or father" It's really strange to see how everything you are in lost when the skin is gone and you are just bone. It's endless rows and rows of bones, mostly femurs and skulls.
One things that did concern me was the amount of mold growing on the bones. My brother and I both experienced respiratory problems towards the end of the tour that continued for awhile afterwards. We had trouble getting full breaths and our throats were very dry. With the amount of bones in there, there is a lot of dust and particles in the air that people with respiratory problems should be aware of.
We brought along a small flashlight with us, and it proved very useful. We were able to look into the back nooks and crannies, areas that were closed off from visitors. We got to see passageways that continued on into the vast darkness that no visitor was permitted to ever see. You get an idea of how expansive the catacombes are, they aren't just confined to the tour area. Overall, it's a very interesting tour and I highly recommend it.
Do you know that the biggest necropol of the world is in Paris? Quite recent compared to the necropoles of Naples and Rome, it has been built during the 18th century. More than 6 millions people are burried here!! You can visit it, it's really 'off the beaten path' but very interesting.
1 place Denfert Rochereau (14th district)
I know many people think this is a strange place to visit but I consider it a "must see" activity.
It's amazing to be walking in these tunnels and thinking that they were built in Roman times. That my friends, was a very, very long time ago.
Around 1780, the cemetary at Les Halles was overflowing and causing health problems so the French decided to move many rotting corpses down below.
They keep odd hours so double check before going. Usually it's something like 2-4pm 3 days a week and slightly longer hours on the weekend.
We've been twice. Once when they opened and once when they were closing. By far it was better when they were closing. It seems that more people are waiting for them to open thinking they'll beat the lines. That doesn't happen usually because they don't open until 2pm. Everyone is up by then!
We had the best luck going at 3:45pm and practically had the place to ourselves during mid September.
The Paris catacombs date back to Roman times. It's a little grim, but still a cool place to see. The Catacombs were used to hold the remains of many Parisians when church yards began to fill
There are apparently millions of remains down there. the tour is self guided, and you just walk through at your own pace. It's a good way to spend a n hour or so, especially if the weather is bad.
The entrance is across the street from the Denfert-Rochereau Metro station exit.
(photo to come)
In the 18th Century, the bones of an old cemetery (Cimitière des Innocents) were transported to the Catacombs.
Very funny phrases are inscripted along this underground, macabre Paris attraction, beginning with 'Arrête - C'est ici l'empire de la mort' (Stop, this is the empire of death). It's interesting to notice the kind of people who are interested in this place. Everybody laughed a lot when I was there, so I guess everybody's searching for some morbid fun... you may see my corresponding travelogue for extra pictures.
Address: 1, Place Denfert-Rochereau (14th District)
Paris is full of old underground quarries used to built the house in the 11-15th century. A small part of these quarries have been used to empty the cemeteries in the 18th century. There is 6 millions of individuals in 11000 m² ...
Location : 1 place Denfert-Rochereau , 75014 Paris
Subway : Denfert-Rochereau (line 4)
When you need a break from the conventional, this would definitely be the place for you...the Paris Catecombs! They're off-the-beaten-path, location-wise, but are actually one of Paris' top attractions so you'll find them listed in any guidebook. A maze of corridors and chambers await you down here, make sure someone in your party has a flashlight or you may take a turn and never be seen again. After walking and wandering for what seems forEVer, voila! you come upon the rooms of floor-to-ceiling bones and skulls, all stacked very neatly. Been here for centuries 'cause the regular cemeteries just ran out of room, really. Not for the squeamish or claustrophobic, but for anyone else who has a macabre sense of adventure...
The Catacombs at Denfert Rochereau.
If you've read any of my other pages, you probably know by now that I have some morbid tendencies :) If you do too, you cannot miss going to see the piles of bones and skulls in the catacombs. Is there no end to the gothic experience in Paris? Here you walk *down* a bunch of stairs to the belly of the beautiful beast that is Paris and walk in very dark, narrow corridors for about 1/2 a mile (all the while wondering, 'is this it? Where are the bones I've heard about?') and then you're *there*. You'll know because there will be an archway and words...including 'Morts' in the mix.
Then you will walk in a series of long passage ways, dark, and dripping with condensation, the bones piled up to the top, some in interesting configurations, giving me the idea that Parisiens have a lovely sick sense of humor, and little sayings by French writers. A fabulous comedia dell sangue--lush and spine-tingling at once!!
By the way, a great deal of these remains are from those who were in the Resistance.
I kept thinking when MY lease is up at the boneyard, can my bones be sent to the catacombs in Paris?
Nope. No longer happens.