The Parisian catacombs comprise a surface of 11,000m² underneath the city. Their name is derived from the catacombs in Rome. Originally, the space nowadays known as the catacombs used to be stone pits.
The catacoms today
All in all, there is a network of 300km (186mi) underneath Paris and only 1.7km have been made accessible to the public. The other segments of the catacombs are partially still in use. The National Bank of France, for instance, has their treasures of gold stored here. Other shafts were transformed into metro line tunnels. Meanwhile, a separate department of the Parisian police has been created to deal with issues circling around the catacombs as there are people entering the non-public parts of the catacombs illegally or celebrating parties from time to time.
Nowadays, there are guided tours offered through the publicly accessible parts of the catacombs. One should book a tour well in advance as there are only 200 visitors allowed at the same time for safety reasons. Make sure you wear warm clothes as the average temperature is about 14° C down there.
In the 18th century, the population of Paris was steadily growing and free spaces for cemeteries were scarce. Due to the congestion of all graveyards the smell in the city became unbearable. The situation was worsened by the plague that was haunting the city. It is for this reason that many of the central cemeteries had to be closed down and cleansed. During the 19th century then, the remains of approximately 6 million people were transferred to the disused stone pits underneath Paris that later became known as the catacombs of Paris.
- The day pass at The Catacombs of Paris is €14 making it one of the 5 cheapest tourist Attractions in Île-de-France.
How to get there
Metro lines 4 or 6 will take you to the entrance of the catacombs if you get off at the station “Denfert-Rochereau”.
By city train
Use RER line B, getting off at the station “Denfert-Rochereau”.
Use bus lines 38 or 68 to get here.