Although Paris is regarded as the City of Love, it has a gloomy and troubling past. There is a massive honeycomb of tunnels beneath the city. The public portion comprises approximately 1.5 kilometers of underground passages excavated from sandstone and precisely lined with the remnants of approximately six million people. And this is only a small part of the overall system.
The catacombs are an unidentified tribute to millions of unknown, deceased Parisians, full of the human femur bone, skeletons, and other bones, heaped in bizarrely elegant, orderly exhibits and recounted by death rhymes and epigrams.
The Spooky History Of The Catacombes De Paris
Though they initially opened for the public in 1809, the Catacombs have not always been a worldwide curiosity. Before the French Revolution, they were utilized as burial sites to prevent the disease from spreading due to overcrowding in graves in the 17th century.
Guillotine martyrs and others were laid here during the French Revolution, including leaders like Robespierre, Lavoisier, and Danton, executed in 1794.
Many of the identities of the 6 million Parisians laid in the underground passages have been lost in history.
What To See In The Catacombs
The Paris Catacombs are intriguing to visit, but they're more of an archaeological expedition than a frightening Halloween event.
Visitors must notice how the millions of bones and skulls densely stacked all around sidewalls have been organized as they move through the passageways.
Some look to be haphazardly arranged in huge piles and columns, whereas others seem to be arranged in a crisscross or other identifiable, symmetric designs.
First Comes The Catacomb Stairway
The first half of the event is unlike anything else that tourists have ever done. It's a spiral stairway that descends into the ground, with triangular stairs and sides that appear to get somewhat moister as one descends. With every step along the way, there's a handrail to grab hold of.
Guests can walk a few tight passageways once they have descended the steps.
Now, To Explore The First Section Of The Catacombs
The first section of the Catacombs serves as an exhibit, with pictures on the walls and accompanying information panels in several languages detailing a portion of the past. It feels like visitors are in a cave because of the windows and the floor.
Visitors will notice engravings on the walls from when the site was utilized as mines. These marks were essential in preventing workers from being disoriented when traveling through the passageways.
There are no skeletons in this part of the Catacombs.
Next, Is The Port- Mahon Corridor
François Décure, a French mine worker, constructed stunning statues in the Port-Mahon passage.
Visitors will be greeted with Décure's stunning reproduction of the fortification of Port Mahon, Minorca, as soon as they enter. As he had been detained there before, he sculpted it from memory. The sculpture is referred to as the Beauséjour statue.
Next, Visit The Quarryman's Footpath
This section of the Catacombs is reminiscent of a wishing well. Quarrymen operating in the Catacombs utilized the Quarryman's Walkway to have water for mixing cement and washing up before heading to the ground surface after working.
After passing through this portion of the Catacombs, tourists arrive in one of the bigger rooms filled with skull displays. Inscriptions, graves, and chapels commemorating the dead are everywhere.
Let's Walk Into Ossuary
An inscription at the entrance to the Ossuary reads in French, "Stop — this is the kingdom of death."
The close-up of all the skeletons, heaped high and wide, may frighten visitors. These remains were a piece of history, and they were once linked to real Parisians to their own life and secrets.
Visitors will also notice an oil-lit lamp in this chamber, which used to signify that there was still oxygen and that miners in the quarry could continue working. The laborers had to leave the Catacombs when the funerary lamp was no more blazing because there was no oxygen to breathe.
Other attractions in the Ossuary would include the Fountain of the Samaritans, a spring, and Gilbert's tombstone, which features a poetic French phrase. The Crypt of Passions, a barrel-shaped stack of ankle bones and skull, is the most fascinating portion of the Ossuary.
When Best To Visit The Paris Catacombs
- Visitors must go early morning or during the lean period, which spans between mid-October to March.
- Visitors will be fewer, enabling a more relaxing and less suffocating encounter during this time.
- A few of the passages are quite narrow, and tourists should avoid feeling crowded when passing through them.
From Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m., the catacombs are accessible throughout the year till 8:30 p.m.
Admission tickets are required:
- Adults (Above 26 years) - €13
- Adults (Between 18-26 years) - €11
- Children - €5
What To Wear When Visiting The Catacombs
- Tourists should dress in long-sleeved shirts, buttoned, good shoes, and maybe a light jacket even in the summers.
- To prevent harm to the remnants, the Catacombs are constantly chilly.
- Also, ensure that footwear has a good grip, as some tunnels might be slick and even damp.
Getting To The Paris Catacombs
- Nearest Train Station - Denfert-Rochereau Transit stop
- It is a 1-minute walk to the site.
- Nearest Bus Stop - Denfert-Rochereau Bus stop
- It is a 1-minute walk to the Catacombs.
The Catacombs de Paris are fascinating, magnificent, and rather spooky. Many generations have been captivated and enthralled by these catacombs over the decades. The words inscribed in various locations around the tunnels help visitors sense the catacombs' mood and seem like messages left for travelers by past explorers from a long time back. They are today a testament to Paris's past and heritage.