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Paris Catacombs

This chilling underground graveyard opened as a tourist attraction in 1874, and houses the remains of more than 6 million Parisians.

With its eerily ornate bone formations, the Paris Catacombs seems like some macabre artwork but it actually spawned from practicality. Overcrowded graveyards in the late 1700s were causing health problems in the city, including the spread of disease through contaminated water. From 1786 to 1814, the exhumed bones from the city’s cemeteries were transferred to the abandoned underground limestone quarries, and the result is the haunting catacombs. The passageways are more than a mile long (1.6 kilometers), with wall-to-wall skeletal remains neatly arranged around memorial plaques. The bones are arranged according to bone type – skulls, femurs, tibias. Some bones are more than a century old, with some that date back to the French Revolution. 

Visitors enter in the 14th arrondissement, descend underground via 130 steps and then wind through the low-ceilinged, dimly lit tunnels. The walls feature intricate carvings, known as the Sculptures of Decure. Dating back to 1777, the works were created by Decure, an army veteran and quarry inspector, who perished when a sinkhole opened on an upper level of the tunnel.

Rent a personalized audio tour, which walks you through the winding passages and provide background on some of the ossuary’s highlights. These include the Fountain of Samaritan, a small spring encircled by a wall of bones. The oldest artifact in the catacombs is the Sepulchral Lamp, which was lit by quarrymen working in the corridors.

Allow an hour to wander through the tunnels, which are open every day except Mondays. Adults must accompany children under the age of 14. 

The entrance to the Paris Catacombs is nondescript, tucked away in a patch of trees on the Place Denfert-Rochereau. Be prepared to wait an hour or more in line to enter the catacombs. Take a sweater as it gets cold underground even in summer. It can also be slippery so take care, especially on the many stairs in and out of the tunnels. Stay on track, as you don’t want to find yourself lost in the further 180 miles (290 kilometers) of quarry tunnels. There is paid parking nearby, and public transportation stops nearby as well.


Guide to Exploring around Paris Catacombs


Map

Lodging Near Paris Catacombs

See all 3,138 Hotels near Paris Catacombs
$115
Hôtel Concorde Montparnasse

Hôtel Concorde Montparnasse

40, rue du Commandant Mouchotte, Paris
4.1
of 5, from 812 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This Paris hotel is next to the shops and restaurants of historic Montparnasse and one block from Montparnasse Station; it is adjacent to Jardin Atlantique.

$87
FIAP - Hostel

FIAP - Hostel

30 rue Cabanis, Paris
4.0
of 5, from 47 reviews
0.0 out of 5.0

Located in 14th Arrondissement, this hostel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Paris Catacombs and Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. Tour Montparnasse and Jardin des Plantes are also within 2 mi (3 km).

$95
Hôtel du Midi Paris Montparnasse

Hôtel du Midi Paris Montparnasse

4 Avenue René Coty, Paris
4.0
of 5, from 65 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in 14th Arrondissement, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Paris Catacombs and Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. Tour Montparnasse and Luxembourg Gardens are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$153
Villa Montparnasse

Villa Montparnasse

2 Rue Boulard, Paris
4.3
of 5, from 3 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This Left Bank Paris hotel is close to the Montparnasse train station, the RER train and metro station, and the airport bus (Denfert Rochereau); shops in Montparnasse Tower are 800 meters away.

$145
Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center

Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center

17 Boulevard Saint Jacques, Paris
4.1
of 5, from 215 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in 14th Arrondissement, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Paris Catacombs and Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. Tour Montparnasse and Jardin des Plantes are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$84
Hôtel du Lion

Hôtel du Lion

1 Avenue du General Leclerc, Paris
4.0
of 5, from 52 reviews
2.0 out of 5.0

Located in 14th Arrondissement, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Paris Catacombs and Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. Tour Montparnasse and Luxembourg Gardens are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$87
Hôtel Vacances Bleues Villa Modigliani

Hôtel Vacances Bleues Villa Modigliani

13 rue Delambre, Paris
4.1
of 5, from 300 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Villa-style Paris hotel on the Left Bank, 300 metres from Edgar Quinet metro station and 1 kilometre from Luxembourg Gardens. Grands Boulevards is close by with its many shopping opportunities.

$61
Hotel Montparnasse Alesia

Hotel Montparnasse Alesia

147, Ter Rue D'alesia, Paris
3.6
of 5, from 118 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in 14th Arrondissement, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Paris Catacombs, Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, and Tour Montparnasse. Paris Expo Porte de Versailles and Luxembourg Gardens are also within 2 mi (3 km).