WHAT I CAN REMEMBER IS THAT WE WERE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE PICTURES...SO I DIDN'T!!!!! I REMEMBER MY SWISS FRIENDS SAYING THAT THE LAST TIME THEY WERE IN PARIS ..THAT THEY HAD MISSED GOING INTO THIS PLACE BECAUSE IT WAS CLOSED..AND MAYBE THEY DIDN'T KNOW THE ENGLISH WORD FOR "CATACOMBES". .OTHERWISE I MIGHT NOT HAVE GONE WITH THEM. .HEHEHEHEHEHE!!!!!!
I DO REMEMBER PAYING 5 EURO TO ENTER AND ALSO THEM CHECKING OUR BACK-PACKS BEFORE WE WENT DOWN ABOUT TWO OR THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS!!!!
ALSO REMEMBER MY ONE FRIEND ASKING ME IF I KNEW WHAT THAT SIGN ABOVE THE ENTRANCE SAID...I DIDN'T!!!! SO THEY SAID IT SAYS" YOU ARE NOW ENTERING DEATH"!! WHAT A WAY TO START THE TOUR ..HUH??!! HEHEHEHE!!! The Catacombs of Paris is a famous burial place in Paris, France. It is a network of subterranean tunnels and rooms located in what were Roman-era limestone quarries. The quarries were converted into a mass tomb near the end of the 18th century. It is most widely known as "the catacombs", but the official title is "les carrières de Paris" or "the quarries of Paris."Burial use in the depleted quarries was established in 1786 by the order of Monsieur Thiroux de Crosne, Lt. General of Police, and by Monsieur Guillaumot, Inspector General of Quarries. At the time, the Les Halles district in the middle of the city was suffering from disease , due to contamination caused by improper burials and mass graves in churchyard cemeteries, especially the large Cimetière des Innocents . It was decided to discreetly remove the bones and place them in the abandoned quarries.
My 1st trip to Paris the Catacombes was on my list of MUST SEES but I missed my window of opportunity (open 2 hrs at 2 separate times a day & closed Monday), so I HAD TO see it 2nd trip. Just thought it would be cool - sort of a gothic thing. Referred to my 1st trip as a Gothic Tour of Paris, not hard to accomplish due to the many gothic influences/things.
Second time 'round to Paris the 1st thing I did was go to the Catacombes. I even left my best friend, Kristin, sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for them to fix up the room while I went off on my jaunt! But she understood my obsession & she had no interest in seeing smelly, old bones.
The walk-through only lasts about half an hour, it's very easy to get to from the Denfert-Rochereau Métro station (you come up out onto Place Denfert-Rochereau - see 1st photo - and it's just across the street - see 2nd photo).
It was very creepy and cool. Highly unusual. There are many signs (in French) reflecting/philosophizing on death in general and on these bones in particular. Signs asking for moments of silence, requests for prayer, etc.. It is weird realizing that the bones ARE real people and the sad realization hits home when you see a hole in the "artwork" where a skull is missing. However, there are precautions now against the stealing of these bones. They do search your bags, etc. when you enter and when you exit.
Click here for a cool website with some fantastic photos! And here's an interesting article the Guardian wrote last September regarding a truly "underground" cinéma by unknown inhabitants housed in the supposedly inaccessible parts of the quarries.
PRICE: 5€ (2002 prices)
STEPS TO CLIMB WHEN EXITING: 83
TOTAL HIKE LENGTH: 1 km 70 (noted from the sign at entrance)
To find out more about les Catacombes you can buy this book.
Photos: Nov '07
À voir absolument au moins une fois dans sa vie: les catacombes. Pour chaque os empilé, il y a une personne qui a existé, qui a vécu, qui avait des amis... Difficile d'imaginer une histoire pour tous ces gens!
This was unbeleivable, i had heard about this place and recomended to visit it, but i was not prepared for the magnitude of the bodys. to start with the tour feels very dark and weird as you wind yourself around the dark tunnels with not much to look at. But when you finally see the sceletons stacked up for Km's it blows you away.
very creepys and not for the easily spooked.
This place just oozes macabre....the creepy vibe is strong here. You will notice that your shoes are covered with dust when you leave, probably dust from the piles of bones. I have a thing for underground cities and tunnels and this did not dissapoint. I loved it.
The Catacombs are underground limestone galleries that were produced when the building materials for Paris were quarried within Paris itself. Some of the mining was open-pit; other was apparently underground. When the mining activities resulted in collapse of buildings at street-level, it was outlawed. Since then, the street level has risen and the entire maze built over.
Napolean mandated that cemeteries in the Halles district of Paris be emptied because high water tables and corpses are a bad (unhealthy) mix. Over a year's time, night workers exhumed the bodies and transported them in huge carts to the closed limestone mines where they were "reburied". The thing is, the "bodies" were mostly bones. Instead of burying the bones, they were stacked in the quarries like firewood. A LOT of firewood. It is stacked 5' to 8' high and sometimes as deep as 40'. There are walkways between the stacks. The walkway you follow through the catacombs is probably close to 1/2 kilometer long. There are a lot of people who ended up in the catacombs of Paris.
Once all the bodies were moved, the church consecrated the catacombs. They are considered holy ground and should be afforded appropriate respect. Taking pictures is frowned on.
The catacombs are a small part of the "underground" of French resistance fame.
NOTE - the catacombs are very dry, they do NOT smell and there are NO rats. The place is really quite clean.
You enter the catacombs next to the Denfert-Rochereau Metro station. You come up MANY blocks away (the tour is 1.5 km long) on an undescript side street. DO take a Paris street map with you to find your way back.
Most postings concerning the catacombes state that the hours of operation are from 2pm to 4pm this is not the case. My niece and I just returned from Paris on the 6th of October and visited the catacombes (it is a very interesting and humbling experience). The catacombes are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 430pm so you a have larger window of opportunity to see this unusual site. Also don't forget to check out the A La Defense Nationale in the centre of the square, the Lion was built facing West so as not to offend Prussia.
Took us a while ti find but once we had it was great! Can't remember how much we paid to get in but wasn't that much. Was a fourty five minute walk down the catacombes. There are around ten thousand human remains down there. Very interesting, if not, a bit disturbing
In 1785, with the cemeteries lietally overflowing, Paris decided to exhume the bones and store them in the tunnels of 3 disused quaries. One ossuary created in 1810 is now known as the Catacombes and is indeed a rather strange and macarbe place, 20m down from street level.
Getting down to the catacombe is easy, following the 1.6km trail through the underground corridors is strange and getting back up to street level at the end is a bit of a wrok out!
There are simply millions of bones and skulls stacked neatly and, in some places, artistically along the walls.
In WWII the tunnels were used by the Resistance as a HQ.
The entrance is by metro Denfert Rochereau and the exit bring you up by metro Mouton Duvertnet... and don't be surprised if the guard at the exit decided to check your bags to ensure you haven't taken any bones as a souvenir!
"Beware! You are entering the city of the dead!"
The catacombs are a series of tunnels filled with millions of bones, formerly located in the cemetaries in the city above.
The tunnels are the former stone quarries of the city of Paris that were shut down in the 18th century. The entire tunnel system has still not been mapped and people have gotten lost forever in them....but don't worry. All you need to do is follow the black line in the ceiling which has directed visitors since Victorian times.
The ground level in some cemetaries had risen 10-20 feet in some places. Priests worked for 2 years nightly, carting bones through the streets from the cemetaries to the catacombs.
The catacombs are a morbid thing to see but also historically interesting. They're well worth the visit if you don't mind the climb down 100 stairs and back up 86 steps at the end.
I would recommend bringing a small flashlight to see better with your photographs. They don't allow flash photography.
This is a very cool little tour that will take you less than an hour and really shows you how Paris grew from the original settlement on the islands (Ile de la Cité - Ile Saint-Louis??) to what it has become today. It's a must see for people who are into history.
Entrance to the Paris Sewer Museum is at Pont d'Alma in front of 93 Quai d'Orsay, near the Place de la Résistance. The museum is open Saturday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (it closes at 4 p.m. from October through April, and shuts down for three weeks in January.)
When the Romans came to Paris, a long time ago, they needed rock to built their houses and other constructions with. They searched in the area where they first settled: at the southbank of the Seine-river. Here they dug kilometres of tunnels to get as many rocks out as possible. After the Roman period almost all the buildings (except the Arènes de Lutèce) were covered or destroyed, but the tunnels stayed.
For many centuries these tunnels were more or less abandoned, until the plaque-epidemic broke out in the Medievals. Millions of Parisians died in a short time and after a while all the cemetaries in the city were full with dead bodies, sometimes even metres above the ground! Something had to be done, and then the Roman tunnels were remembered again.
In 1785 the huge work was started to move the millions of skeletons to the tunnels. The work was done in the night, not to shock all the people, and once the bones were inside they were perfectly organised to keep a structure in the tunnels and to save space.
In the tunnels signs were added to indicate where the bones originally came from, and at the beginning of the bone-collection a sign was made "Arrète! Ici c'est l'empire de la mort" meaning "Stop, this is the empire of death".
The tunnels were used for the last time during the Second World War, when the French Resistant had a base here.
Today the tunnels are opened for the public. It is possible to walk around the tunnels, in a route of 2 kilometres at a depth of about 20 metres. Be prepared that the tunnels are dark, cold and wet, and of course that the millions of bones around you can be shocking.
I love the Catacombs! See something in Paris that many tourist don't even know about!
I first found out about the catacombs by reading the book "Cemetary Stories" by Katherine Ramsland. The catacombs orginated because Paris was suffering from disease caused by contamination from poor burials and mass graves in churchyard cemeteries. It was decided to discreetly remove the bones and place them in the abandoned quarries. These are most widely known as "the catacombs", but the offical title is "les carrières de Paris" or "the quarries of Paris."
If lower level attractions are more your thing, then make a trip to the Catacombs.
The Catacombs are deep underground tunnels lying beneath the bustling city of Paris... filled with the bones of millions of Parisians, placed here about 200 years ago to take the pressure off incredibly overcrowded cemeteries. Thousands of these skulls are of plague victims.
The construction of the catacombs began in 1785 when the first load of bodies started arriving to be placed in the tombs. The first cemetery to take part in the new development was the Cemetery of the Innocents.
A very interesting place to visit, albeit slightly nervewracking!
Wanna see more bones and skullls than you can imagine? Visit the Catacombs under Paris. These bones came from thousands of dead intered in Paris cemataries when the government decided to empty all the church graveyards in the city to make room for more/other development. Please remember that this tour requires going down a 60 foot, very tight, spirel starwell, then a very long walk to the bones thru caverns and another 60 foot climb up a spirel starwell. And dont play songs on the craniums like I did, and get busted...