The Paris Catacombs (Les Catacombes) date back to the 1700s, when the ossuary was formed from an old underground quarry. Over the years, more and more remains were brought here from overcrowded cemeteries to make room for the city's development, up until 1860. For those with an interest, it’s a fascinating look at a former burial practice.
A Catacombs tour takes you 135 feet (20 meters) below ground to explore this subterranean world of skeletal remains. You’ll cover just under one mile (1.5 km), which takes about 45 minutes. The Catacombs of Paris aren’t usually part of standard city tours, so they’re often experienced on a standalone tour. Book a skip-the-line ticket to bypass the queue, or make your sightseeing even easier by selecting combo admission to both the Catacombs and the Eiffel Tower.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Buy a ticket in advance to avoid waiting in a long line; visitors are limited to 200 at a time.
- You may want to bring a layer, as the temperature is 57° F (14° C) in the Catacombs.
- There is no cloakroom, so bring only what you want to carry with you.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes—you’ll go down 130 steps and up 83 steps to return to street level.
- The Catacombs tour is not for everyone—you will be underground and see human bones, so it's not recommended for those with sensitive disposition or young children. And unfortunately, the site is not accessible for those with limited mobility or recommended for those with heart or respiratory problems.
How to Get There
The Catacombs are located in Paris' 14th arrondissement. The Denfert-Rochereau metro and RER station puts you right by the entrance on Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy.
When to Get There
The Catacombs are open every day except Mondays and some bank holidays. The experience is the same by day and in the evening, as you’re underground and the lighting is artificial. For fewer crowds, book a morning visit.
Other Things to Do in the 14th Arrondissement
This section of Paris is not the city’s most visited, as it’s away from the Seine near the southern edge of the city limits. If you’re making the trip to visit the Catacombs, take advantage of being in the 14th to check out other attractions such as the 56th-floor observation deck of Tour Montparnasse or Montparnasse Cemetery, where writers and intellectuals such as Charles Baudelaire, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir are buried.