Le Catacombs

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Lepettitprince on February 18, 2003

This is Paris from another side. It’s the biggest historical graveyard of this town. Doesn’t sound very interesting. But in fact you dive 30 meters below the formally know Victualien market, and you find parts of the catacomb system of Paris.

This system is partly older than the metro, it’s a huge tunnel system covering the entire area of the historic centre. It caused a lot of problems in the past, not only because it weakened the towns surface and randomly caused breakdowns (once a whole street cracked down), but also because people discovered it for their adventure and some even lived or hid there for some reason.

The officials tried to close the entrances to this system. There’s only one part open for the public and it´s really worth seeing. It’s the part where former officials of the town (18th century) decided to help out with the current graveyard problem. They ordered to collect the bones from the graveyards and piled them up in the catacombs. They did this in a certain order: you can recognise which historical graveyard belongs to which part, also famous abbey’s and monastery’s graveyards have been removed. They piled them up in orderly fashion, each type of bone together. It looks totally unreal, it’s hard to imagine that these are the former Parisians who built and made the city. They also formed pictures, warnings, and messages out of the bones in the piles, which makes the sight even more grotesque.

You don’t have to be afraid about safety or your health, it’s an official tourist sight run by the Parisian officials. I really recommend to go there, just because you won’t forget it and it’s another important part of Parisian history, one people just like to ignore. You find the Catacombs not far away from the assembly hall. Try to find out the opening times, they are quite short and change between seasons. The entrance was 4 Euros last time, but this year all prices went up, so I guess you’ll have to pay more. Take a torch and a strong flashlight in case you want to take pictures.

Catacombs of Paris
1, Place Denfert-Rochereau
Paris, France, 75014
33 (1) 43 22 47 63


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