About Catacombs of Paris

People from all corners of the world travel to the city to get hold of a dreamy evening under the Eiffel Tower, visit the magnificent Louvre museum, marvel at the glorious Arc de Triomphe, and more. It is no surprise that Paris is one of the most loved tourist destinations in the world. While the city of lights is packed with sparkling attractions to keep your holiday packed, there is a place in Paris that adds a little touch of horror and adventure to your Paris itinerary. The Catacombs of Paris is the perfect destination in Paris to add the touch of adventure that you want to your holiday. Be it knowing the best time to visit the Catacombs, getting a Catacombs of Paris guide, or understanding the Catacombs of Paris history, the article has it all.

Best Time to Visit Catacombs of Paris

Low Season For Paris Catacombs Tour
Low Season For Paris Catacombs Tour

To avoid the big crowd and queues, one should visit the Paris Catacombs between October to May as these are the best time to visit Catacombs of Paris. These months are considered off-season in the Paris tourist calendar. During the low season, the Catacombs are usually filled with visitors on weekends. So to avoid the long queue, one should visit during a weekday. The worst day to visit is Tuesday, as most of the public museums in the city are closed. Hence, the majority of the crowd rushes here.

High Season For Paris Catacombs Tour
High Season For Paris Catacombs Tour

The Paris Catacombs witness a large influx of tourists during the month of December and January due to the holidays. No matter which day of the week you choose, you are most likely to encounter a big queue of visitors waiting to get inside the tourist attraction.

How to Avoid The Crowds

In your quest to acquire everything you need to know about Catacombs of Paris, you must know some hacks to avoid the exhausting experience of standing in the queue. Book tickets online in advance and ensure you reach 5 minutes before the scheduled time to avoid delays. Try visiting the place during the early hours on weekdays to avoid the crowd. You can also visit just a Lil late (around 7 pm.) for a less crowded experience.

History of Catacombs of Paris

History of Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs of Paris history dates back to the Gallo-Roman period when the citizens of Paris used limestone to construct most of the buildings. The miners of limestone used the technique of extracting the limestone horizontally which led to the formation of a honeycomb of tunnels as Paris grew. Also, the cemeteries within the city limits were overflowing during that particular period, thus creating a gory and unhygienic aura around the city. With time the problem intensified and dead bodies started flooding the town. The only location with sufficient room to bury all the existing dead bodies and more were these former mine tunnels that were twenty meters beneath the city. This is how the Catacombs of Paris came into existence!

The construction of the catacombs started in 1785, and it was named as Saints-Innocents cemetery. Later on April 7, 1786, the site was consecrated as the "Paris Municipal Ossuary." From that same date, the famous underground burial site got the mythical name "Catacombs," Also, from 1809, the Catacombs of Paris were opened to the public by appointment.

Chronological Milestones

To get a better understanding of Catacombs of Paris history, take a look at the notable milestone in chronological order.

Chronological Milestones
  • Fourteenth-century: Formation of the first underground quarries.

  • 1774: the great collapse of Rue Denfert-Rochereau; 300 meters got swallowed up.

  • September 15, 1776: King Louis XVI signed a decree that forbids extracting material from under public roads.

  • April 4, 1777: The Department of General Quarry Inspection was formed by King Louis XVI, which worked to protect Parisian quarries.

  • 1780: Saints-Innocents cemetery was closed.

  • April 7, 1786: The consecration of the Tombe-Issoire quarries took place, which came to be known as the "Catacombs."

  • 1787-1814: The bones from the parochial cemeteries of Paris were shifted to the catacombs.

  • 1809: The ossuary was opened to the public.

  • 1810-1814: Ossuary was rearranged by Inspector Héricart de Thury.

  • 2002: Catacombs were attached to the Carnavalet Museum – History of Paris, which continues to promote the site.

The Ossuary

The Ossuary

The ossuary is the most integral part of the Catacombs, and it is vital as it gives its vivid description in an article that reads 'Everything You Need to Know about Catacombs of Paris.

Once the bones from different cemeteries were brought to the Catacombs, the underground structure was nothing but a mine filled with loosely stacked bones. Before being opened to the public in 1809, Inspector Héricart de Thury transformed the site using a monumental approach and made it look organized and tourist worthy. As you enter the ossuary, the scale of the catacombs seems clear where both the sides of the wall are assembled with the skulls and bones of the dead. The main part of the ossuary is marked with a stone inscription reading "Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort" (Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead). Also, you can find walls of bones stacked right up to the ceiling.

The Architecture

The Architecture

Next on the list of everything you need to Know about Catacombs of Paris is the architecture of the structure. The transformation of the catacombs from a limestone tunnel to a tourist attraction can clearly be considered one of the most ambitious architectural projects of the era. The design and layout were intricately drawn by Architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. A lot of inspiration was drawn from ancient Greece.

The two pavilions on the site are built on four levels: the ground floor, the first floor, the mezzanine, and the attic. There is a central staircase that leads to a porch with 3 arcades on unsupported Tuscan columns which alternated cubic, plain and cylindrical drums. The site is filled with great details like the main entrance, also called the "Gate of Hell."

Things to Do Near Catacombs of Paris

Visit Sainte Chapelle
Visit Sainte Chapelle

This attraction is considered one of the most significant achievements of Gothic architecture according to the Catacombs of Paris guide. The Sainte Chapelle is one of the world's most extensive in-situ collections of 13th-century stained glass. Its construction began sometime after 1239 and was commissioned by King Louis IX to house his collection of Passion Artefacts, including the great Christ's Crown of Thorns, one of the most important antiques from mediaeval Christendom. Even though the structure was damaged during the french revolution, it was restored carefully in the 19th century.

Take A River Seine Cruise
Take A River Seine Cruise

Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world, and the Seine river cruise is one of the most romantic things you can do with your partner in the city. The beautiful Seine runs nearly 800 km through France on its way to the English Channel. You can enjoy the slow ride as the cruise winds through the magical city, crossing notable places like the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Eiffel Tower. The one-hour-long cruise is the perfect way to marvel at the glowing city of lights and enjoy time with your loved ones from the clean waters of the river.

Visit the Louvre Museum
Visit the Louvre Museum

You must be aware of the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci called "Mona Lisa." Well, it is one of the many great exhibits that reside in the Louvre Museum. It is the world's most visited museum. It holds a collection of more than 1 million objects of great historical significance. Be it the famous works of Leonardo da Vinci, paintings of Michelangelo, or the great Greek statue, "Venus of Milo." The place has it all. The exterior structure is equally remarkable; the signature glass pyramid marking the museum entrance in the middle of a lush green garden is a sight to adore.

Enjoy the Eiffel Tower Light Show
Enjoy the Eiffel Tower Light Show

Be it a guide to explore Paris or a Catacombs of Paris guide, both are incomplete without the mention of the Eiffel tower. The structure stands more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall in the Champ de Mars park; this iron structure was made for the 1889 World Exposition. You can enjoy the extravagant Eiffel Tower light show, ride the elevator to witness incredible views of the city from the top, or have a romantic dinner in a nearby restaurant with the Eiffel in the background sparkling with lights.

Explore the Palace of Versailles
Explore the Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is another architectural marvel which includes the Grand Gardens and the royal structure which people all across the globe come to see. Its colossal structure is ornate, opulent, and exudes richness makes it one of the most photogenic spots in the entire city. If you are aware of the french revolution, you must be familiar with the importance of the Palace of Versailles to French history. It is also the home to the magnificent Hall of Mirrors with its 357 mirrors decorating 17 arches.

Discover the Historical Monument of Conciergerie
Discover the Historical Monument of Conciergerie

Isn't it great to see great kings' palaces with their royal architecture, intricate designs, and every tiny detail that makes you feel majestic. The Conciergerie is such a palace that served as the French kings' main palace. Unlike other grand palaces, it's Great Hall was one of the largest in Europe. The monument holds a classic variety of huge halls, a few prisons, and some very artistic interiors. Make sure to add this to your list of tourist attractions to see in Paris.

Explore Pantheon Paris
Explore Pantheon Paris

The Pantheon Paris is a site where famous french personalities are buried and is modelled after the Pantheon in Rome. The structure was originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, and her relics. Later on, during the French revolution, it was changed into a mausoleum to pay respect to the martyrs. The neoclassical style of the building looks great in broad daylight and serves as a great spot for pictures. You'll be surprised to know that people like Marie Curie, Voltaire, and more are buried in the Pantheon.

Visit the Tomb Of Napoleon Bonaparte
Visit the Tomb Of Napoleon Bonaparte

If you geek out on history, you must visit the buildings of Les Invalides. The place was the hotspot for rioters to obtain weapons that helped start the French Revolution. Les Invalides is a wide network of military museums and a church that is the burial site of its war heroes. In this very church, you will find the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Visit The Rodin Museum
Visit The Rodin Museum

Paris is home to excellent museums, and the Musee Rodin is one of them. The museum and the adjoining garden area are filled with statues sculpted by Auguste Rodin, a famous early 20th-century French artist. The museum also homes the renowned sculpture called 'The Thinker.'

Visit Homme Museum
Visit Homme Museum

The Homme museum is located in the Passy wing of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. The place was inaugurated in 1938. Unlike other museums, the Homme museum focuses on a unique concept. The aim of the exhibitions in this museum is to gain a good understanding of what it means to be human, our origins, our place among other forms of life, and to explore our scope for adaptation to the new world. No wonder why it is also called the museum of mankind.

Explore Musée du Quai Branly
Explore Musée du Quai Branly

Most of the museums in the list circle mostly around French history, but the Musée du Quai Branly one features the indigenous art and cultures of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. If you finish the Catacombs tour early, you should pay a small visit to the museum.

Experience The Sunrise From Trocadéro
Experience The Sunrise From Trocadéro

No trip is complete without a set of aesthetic pictures in our phone gallery, and let us all accept that sunrise pictures are a great addition to any gallery. If you want to see the sunrise in Paris, there is no better spot than Trocadéro. From here, you can see the sun rising behind the Eiffel tower. Imagine the first light of the day falling on the Eiffel tower as it stands out from a reddish-pink skyline. There are plenty of places for you to visit in ‘city of lights’ which is why it is recommended to get an overview of everything you need to know about Catacombs of Paris before heading.

Know Before You Go to the Catacombs of Paris

How to Reach
Opening Hours
Tips
How to Reach

By Metro: The Denfert-Rochereau is the nearest station to the catacombs. You can take the metro lines 4 and 6 and get off at Denfert-Rochereau, from where it is a mere three-minute walk to the Catacombs. You can also take the metro to Alésia station near the Catacombs (4-6 minutes walk).

By RER: If you are travelling from down North, you can take the suburban train line RER B that connects Charles de Gaulle airport in the North to Paris city center, and the only airport in South. This train stops at Denfert-Rochereau as well, from where you can walk to your destination. If you want a ride with fewer stops, taking RER B from Chatelet-Les-Halles station is the best choice. It takes only 3 stops to reach the Catacombs.

By Bus: Make a note that bus line number 38 and 68 stop near the Catacombs.

FAQs

When were Paris catacombs built?

    The construction of the catacombs started in 1785, and it was named as Saints-Innocents cemetery. Later on April 7, 1786, the site was consecrated as the "Paris Municipal Ossuary." From that same date, the famous underground burial site got the mythical name "Catacombs," Also, from 1809, the Catacombs of Paris were opened to the public by appointment.

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