Under the ground of Paris hide hundreds of kilometers of tunnels full of mysteries and history. The catacombs are a place that, either out of respect or ignorance, many people overlook during their visit to Paris. It is a mistake not to visit them, as it is one of the most interesting and special places that houses the French city.
Of the more than 300 kilometers of tunnels in the subsoil only 1.5 can be visited legally. It is not a normal visit as it can be to a museum or a cathedral because the visit to the catacombs is full of peculiarities. All these peculiarities and all the information you need to know about this peculiar place are summarized in the points you will read below.
The best option
If you want to visit one of the most special and different places in Paris and do it without having to queue for several hours, this is the best option to get your ticket for the Paris Catacombs.
For two hours you can take a walk through the catacombs of Paris while an English-speaking guide leads the tour. The tour will take place in small groups in order to enjoy even more an unforgettable experience.
In addition, with this ticket you will have access to restricted areas of the catacombs.
Recommended if... you want to be carefree and avoid the queues at the entrance.
How much do tickets to the catacombs of Paris cost?
To visit the catacombs of Paris you can either buy tickets directly at the ticket office at the entrance, next to the Montparnasse cemetery, or do it online. This second option is more advisable because buying them in advance will save long queues. The rates for the normal entrance with audio guide are:
- Normal ticket for 1 person: 29€.
- Reduced ticket: 27€.
- Ticket for children between 4 and 17 years old: 5€.
There is another more risky option but with which we can save something. If we go at the last minute we can get a special ticket called "last minute" valid for the same day and can only be purchased at the box office.
These tickets cost 15€ for the full price, 13€ for the reduced price and children go free, but they are limited tickets and only if the capacity allows it. So there is a risk that if we go at the last minute we can not get these tickets and we will not be able to visit them. With these tickets the audio guides are separate with a surcharge of 5 €.
Are there guided tours to the catacombs of Paris?
The visit to the catacombs is always guided since the entrance is not allowed if it is not with an accredited guide. However, once the guide gives us the relevant indications we can choose whether to do the tour with him or move more freely along the pre-set route and relying on the audio guides that are included with the ticket. For security reasons, all visits are like this.
How to get to the catacombs of Paris
The tourist entrance is located next to the Montparnasse cemetery on Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy. This is located in the southern part of Paris about an hour walk from the center. For reference, from the Place de la Concorde it takes about 55 minutes on foot. But it is very accessible by other means of transport which are among the best options to move around Paris and surroundings:
- By Paris Metro: The nearest station is Denfert-Rochereau through which lines 4 and 6 pass.
- By Bus: Lines 38 and 68 stop near the Montparnasse cemetery.
- By car or cab: You have to put the following address in the Gps or ask the cab driver to take you to Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014.
Is it advisable to go to the Paris catacombs with children?
Technically the entrance is allowed for children over 5 years old. But it is not the best place to visit with little ones. Apart from the dark and gloomy atmosphere of the catacombs and the skulls and human remains that can be seen during the visit, the access and the conditions of the place are not ideal for children.
The catacombs are 20 meters underground and there are numerous steps up and down to access and exit the catacombs. Underground there is little light and many corridors are very narrow, which can cause a feeling of being cramped, especially for children.
Although they can be visited with children, take into account these conditions to decide whether to visit them with children under your responsibility. Here are some alternative plans to visit the French capital with children.
What to see in the catacombs of Paris
Of the more than 300 kilometers that are estimated to have the tunnels of the catacombs there are only 1.5 kilometers conditioned so that they can be visited. In this tour there is first an area of tunnels and a small explanatory exhibition on the history of the catacombs. Further on is the main attraction of the catacombs, its ossuary.
The ossuary area houses the remains of more than 6 million people whose skulls and hollows are arranged in very peculiar places and shapes. There are more than 800 meters of ossuaries in which stand out an area dedicated to the memory of those who died in the French Revolution, the area of the well that was used for the works of the tunnels, and the barrel of skulls. The latter is a pile of bones arranged in the shape of a barrel and is one of the most characteristic elements of the catacombs.
How much time you need to visit the catacombs of Paris
The tour is designed to last 1 hour. It is important not to exceed this time since the capacity is limited to about 200 people and they have an exhaustive control of the same and of the people who enter and leave the catacombs. However, in three quarters of an hour there is more than enough time to see the whole complex in detail.
Opening hours of the Paris catacombs
The Paris Catacombs are open every day of the week except Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday the opening hours are from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm. The last admissions are at 19:30 in the evening so you must be there before to avoid being left without entrance.
Brief history of the catacombs
The origin of the catacombs dates back to the beginning of the 13th century when the first tunnels were dug to extract stone and materials for the construction of buildings such as the cathedral of Notre Dame. After many years of collapses and collapses, King Louis VXI ordered to refurbish them and thus solve one of the problems that Paris suffered at that time. The lack of space in their cemeteries.
From 1786 to 1859 the remains of many Parisians were continuously transferred to the catacombs. In 1814 they were conditioned for their visit and many of the stored remains were placed in peculiar forms and places for the visitors.
In 1955 it was forbidden to enter the tunnels because they were often used for satanic rites and not entirely legal activities. Since then and until today only a small part of the catacombs can be visited.
Tips for visiting the catacombs of Paris
The visit to the catacombs of Paris is very different from other tourist sites so you should take a number of points into account:
- The first recommendation is to buy your tickets in advance and online. If you don't do it you will probably have to queue for more than an hour to get in because the capacity is reduced and the demand is usually high. In high season the queues can be more than 2 hours.
- Even if you go in summer you should be prepared with something warm because at 20 meters underground the average temperature does not exceed 15 degrees and there is a lot of humidity.
- If you are claustrophobic, suffer from a respiratory disease or are several weeks pregnant, it is not recommended to visit the catacombs.
- Do not carry backpacks, bags or large packages because they will not let you access with them to keep the ossuary because in some places it is very narrow and they do not have a locker service to leave them.
- Inside you can not take pictures with flash.
- It is not accessible for baby carriages or wheelchairs.
- There are two flights of more than 100 stairs each up and down. Keep in mind to wear good shoes and for your physical condition.
Frequently asked questions
What are the catacombs of Paris?
Originally a network of stone mines whose tunnels ended up being used to store corpses in the 17th century, during a time of excessive mortality.
Is it possible to visit all the catacombs in Paris?
Of the 300 km (180 miles) of tunnels beneath the city, only about 1.5 km (1 mile) is open to the public. This is due to the instability of the passages, of which many are now partially flooded or too narrow to explore.
What clothes should I wear to visit the catacombs of Paris?
As the entire tour is subway, be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater, as it can get a bit chilly, regardless of the season. The stairs have large steps so it is perhaps best to avoid wearing skirts, and it is a good idea to wear closed shoes due to the humidity in the tunnels.
Are the catacombs of Paris suitable for children?
Tours can last over an hour, and the catacombs are not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs. It is perhaps a good idea to avoid taking the little ones on this experience as they are quite likely to encounter dead bodies head-on and it can be a somewhat traumatizing experience. In addition, there is no bathroom facilities for the duration of the tour.