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Thrills & Chills of the Paris Catacombs

Bones & skulls piled high in the Paris catacombs
Remains of thousands of Parisians
lie deep within the Paris Catacombs ...

Considered one of the world's top spookiest destinations, the Paris Catacombs is not on EVERYBODY'S list of things to see in Paris.

But if you're one of the millions of travelers who love to visit local cemeteries, or consider haunted houses your favorite tourist thrill, the Paris Catacombs is an adventure in the capital city you won't soon forget.

Practically since its establishment, the Paris Catacombs have been a tourist attraction, drawing kings, queens and visiting dignitaries such as Charles X and Napoleon III.

Today, a renovated museum, audio guides, and improved safety measures make a visit to the Catacombs a must for any tourist seeking a taste of the macabre side of Paris.

Seeing the Paris Catacombs

The entrance to the Catacombes de Paris is non-descript, tucked away in a patch of trees on the Place Denfert-Rochereau. I circled the square five times to find it, and when I finally arrived, it was so spookily empty that I had to ask a guard if I was at the right place!

But once I got past the unassuming entrance and descended a seemingly endless flight of stairs (131 steps total) I suddenly found myself in another world.

Everywhere, skulls and bones lined the walls of the damp, dark tunnel system. At certain spots, there were elaborate patterns and designs; at others, large heaps of dust and bone.

To navigate the tunnels, the audio guide in English comes highly recommended. It provides a sure path along the way together with interesting details on what you're seeing.

Remember that the high humidity calls for light clothing. And don't forget to wear comfortable shoes. Together with the steps down, the labyrinth itself is about a mile long and takes about a 30 minutes to traverse.

That's just enough time to navigate your way to the exit -- and appreciate the land of the living at a nice corner cafe!

Getting to the Paris Catacombs

Main entrance: Place Denfert-Rochereau 2, 14th arrondissement

Paris Metro stop: Denfert-Rochereau

Online Tickets (booked in advance)
Full rate : 29€ (audioguide included)
Reduced rate : 27€ (audioguide included)
Child ticket (4 to 17 yo) : 5€

Last Minute Ticket (bought at the desk, or online and used the same day)
Full Rate : 14€
Reduced Rate : 12€
Child Ticket (-18 yo) : free
Audioguide (french, english, spanish, german) : 5€

All about the Paris Catacombs

Paris catacombs in the 19th century
Famous photographer Felix Nader used the
Paris catacombs in his early experiments
with artificial light in the mid-19th century.

The tunnels that compose the Paris Catacombs were originally part of a Gallo-Roman quarry system that dates back to 60 B.C.

Its conversion to a depository for human remains began in the late 18th century, when the Cemetery of the Innocents (le Cimetière des Saints-Innocents) in the district of Les Halles was condemned because it was found responsible for the spread of infection in the area.

All the buried were ordered removed, and the Council of State chose the unused quarries as their final resting place.

Between 1786 and 1788, bones were carted from the cemetery to the catacombs each night, accompanied by a procession of priests who sang the burial service. Until 1814, it continued to be used as a bone depository from the area's cemeteries.

Mpre about Paris Catacombs around the web:

Catacombs of Paris
- Check out the official site before you go for interesting background information, current admision prices, online ticket ordering, and a virtual tour.

About the Author... Jessica Arriola Marati



chiff 25th anniversary

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