Beneath the streets of Paris there is another, darker side to the city that few get to see. Twenty meters (and more) below street level, the galleries of the Paris Catacombs extend for over 200 miles - a subterranean maze under the city that many are unaware of as they stroll along the streets above.
Initially quarried to provide limestone for the construction of the famous Parisian buildings and bridges, the Paris Catacombs are now home to the bones of more than 6 million former Parisians. Their remains were carefully moved here in the 18th century, in a discreet operation to transfer them from the insalubrious and overflowing cemeteries of the city center. Overcrowding in these cemeteries led to improper burials, open graves and unearthed corpses, spreading disease (and a few horror stories!) into the surrounding areas. Nowadays, wall after wall of stacked bones, and some more slightly macabre compositions, await you as you follow an expert local guide into ‘The Empire of Death’. Fans of the film As Above so Below will recognize these never-ending gloomy tunnels. Along with millions of ordinary Parisians, it is said that the Man in the Iron mask lies here, as do both executioners and their victims, guillotined during the French Revolution.
Your guide will lead you through the underground passages and into some very special rooms. Only 200 people are allowed in this fragile and remarkable site at any one time, and your small group visit will ensure that you get the most out of this extraordinary place, allowing you to spend more time enjoying the rooms and interacting with your guide. This special tour also allows you access to parts of the Catacombs that are closed to the general public. Have underground gates unlocked specially for you and your group, and learn the intriguing stories of those who worked, visited and have been laid to rest here over the centuries, including the secret societies who still visit today. Past and present Paris and its inhabitants come to life as you explore the city’s gloomy entrails concealed below the surface.
There are 130 steps to enter the Paris Catacombs and 112 steps to exit.
This tour is not accessible to wheelchair users or those with limited mobility.
The Catacombs are 20 meters/65 feet (and more) underground and the tunnels are narrow in places. This tour is not suitable for those with cardiac or respiratory problems, or suffering from claustrophobia.
The tunnels can be slippery and remain at a temperature of around 14°C/57°F, even in summer. Guests are advised to wear sturdy shoes and bring warm clothing.
Only 200 visitors are allowed in the tunnels at any one time. If numbers reach a maximum the Catacombs staff reserve the right to hold the entry lines until there is sufficient space. Any delay should not be higher than 5 minutes for our small group.